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B. C. 146— A. D. 717. 



Thucyd. i. 22. 



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C N T E N T S. 

Prepack, .... U 

Chronology, ....... xiii 


A. D. 330. 

Introduction — Changes produced by the conquests of Alexander the 

Great on the condition of the Greek nation, ... 1 

Sect. I. Immediate causes of the conquest of Greece by the Romans, $2 

II. Treatment of Greece after its conquest, , .. . 28 

III. Effects of the Mithridatic war on the state of Greece, . 33 

IV. Ruin of the country by the pirates of Cilicia, 36, 
V. Nature of the Roman prorincial administration in Greece, 41 

VI. Fiscal administration of the Romans, ... 48 

VII. Depopulation of Greece caused by the Roman government, 60 

VIII. Roman colonies established in Greece, . .66 

IX. Political condition of Greece from the time of Augustus to that 

ofCaracalla, ...... 7d 

X. The Greeks and Romans never shewed any disposition to unite 

and form one people, . . * . .77 

XI. State of society among the Greeks, . . 83 

XII. Influence of religion and philosophy on society, . . 95 

XIII. The social condition of the Greeks affected by the want of 

colonies of emigration, .... 103 

XIV. Effects produced in Greece by the inroads of the Goths, 107 

XV. Changes which preceded the establishment of Constantinople 

as the capital of the Roman empire, . .117 

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Sect. I. Constantino, in reforming the government of the Roman 
empire, placed the administration in direct hostility to the 
people, ...... 120 

II. The condition of the Greeks was not improved by Constantine's 

reforms, . . . . . .132 

III. Changes produced in the social condition of the Greeks by the 

alliance of Christianity with their national manners, 1 38 

IV. The orthodox church became identified with the Greek nation, 154 
V. Condition of the Greek population of the empire from the reign 

of Constantino to that of Theodosius the Great, . 162 

VI. Communications of the Greeks with countries beyond the 

bounds of the Roman empire, . . . 169 

VII. Effect of the separation of the eastern and western empires on 

the Greek nation, . . . . .173 

VIII. Attempts of the Goths to establish themselves in Greece, 183 

IX. The national feelings of the Greeks arrested the conquests of 

the northern barbarians, . . . . 194 

X. Declining condition of the Greek population in the European 

provinces of the eastern empire, . . . .201 

XI. The emperors who reigned from the death of Arcadius, to the 
accession of Justinian, displayed a tendency to yield to the 
influence of public opinion, .... 205 

XII. State of civilization, and influence of national feelings, among 

the Greek population, . . . . .219 



Sect. I. Influence of the imperial power on the condition of the Greek 

nation during the reign of Justinian, . . 229 

II. Military forces of the empire, .... 243 

III. Influence of Justinian's legislation on the Greek population, 257 

IV. Internal administration, as it affected the Greeks, . 264 
V. Influence of Justinian's conquests on the Greek population, and 

the change effected by the conquest of the Vandal kingdom 
of Africa, . . . . . .279 

VI. Causes of the easy conquest of the Ostrogothic kingdom of 

Italy by Belisarius, ..... 290 

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VII. Relations of the northern nations with the Roman empire and 

the Greek nation, ..... 308 

VIII. Relations of the Roman empire with Persia, . 321 

IX. Trade and commercial position of the Greeks, and comparative 

condition with the other nations living under the Roman 
government, ...... 327 

X. Influence of the orthodox church in supporting the national 

feelings of the Greeks, .... 340 


OF HERACLIUS. A. D. 565—641. 

Sect. I. Observations on the connection between the history of the 
Greek people and the Roman empire, during the reign of 
Justin the Second, ..... 345 

II. Complete disorganization of all political and national influence 

during the reigns of Tiberius the Second and Maurice, 359 

III. Maurice causes a revolution, by attempting to re-establish the 

ancient authority of the imperial administration, . 365 

IV. Phocas was the representative of a revolution, not of a national 

party, 374 

V. Position of the population of the empire under Heraclius, 379 

VI. Change in the position of the Greek population, which was pro- 
duced by the Sclavonic establishments in Dalmatia, . 406 
VII. Influence of the campaigns of Heraclius in the East on the 

Greeks, ....... 420 

VIII. Condition of the native population of Greece, . . 433. 



Sect. I. The Roman empire gradually changed into the Greek, or 

Byzantine, ...... 440 

IT. Conquest of the southern provinces of the empire, of which the 

majority of the population was not Greek nor orthodox, 445 

III. Constans the Second followed the policy of Heraclius, . 468 

IV. Constantino the Fourth yielded to the popular ecclesiastical 

party among the Greeks, . . . . .479 

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V. Depopulation of the empire, and decrease of the Greeks, under 

Justinian the Second, .... 486 

VI. Confused state of the administration under a succession of 

emperors, ...... 495 

VII. A change takes place in the organization of the empire under 

Leo the iBaurian, ..... 501 

VIII. General view of the condition of the Greeks at the extinction of 

the Roman power in the East, .... 510 

Appendix I. ...... 547 

Appendix II. ....... 553 


For Acheca, throughout the work, read Achaia. 

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The social and political organization of life 
among the Greeks and Romans was essentially 
different, even during the period when they were 
subject to the same government ; and this difference 
must be impressed on the mind, before the relative 
state of civilization in the Eastern and Western 
empires can be thoroughly understood. 

The Romans were a tribe of warriors. All their 
institutions, even those relating to property and 
agriculture, were formed with reference to war. 
The people of the western empire, including the 
greater part of Italy, consisted of a variety of races, 
who were either in a low state of civilization at the 
time of their conquest by the Romans, or else had 
been already subjected to foreigners. They were 
generally treated as inferior beings, and the frame- 
work of their national institutions was every where 
destroyed. The provincials of the West, when thus 
left destitute of every bond of national union, were 
exposed to the invasions of warlike tribes, which, 
under the first impulses of civilization, were driven 

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on to seek the means of supplying new wants. The 
moment, therefore, that the military forces of the 
Roman government were unable to repulse these 
strangers, the population of the provinces was 
exposed to subjection, slavery, or extermination, 
according as the interests or the policy of the 
invading barbarians might determine. 

In that portion of the eastern empire peopled by 
the Greeks, the case was totally different. There 
the executive power of the Roman government was 
modified by a system of national institutions, which 
conferred, even on the rural population, some con- 
trol over their local affairs. The sovereign authority 
was relieved from that petty sphere of administra- 
tion and police, which meddles with the daily 
occupations of the people. The Romans found this 
branch of government completely organized, in a 
manner not closely connected with the political 
sovereignty, and the institutions of the Greeks 
proved more powerful than the despotism of their 
conquerors. Their nationality continued to exist in 
full vigour, even after their conquest ; and this 
nationality was again called into activity when 
the Roman government, from increasing weakness 
gradually began to neglect the duties of adminis- 

The conquest of Greece by the Romans had 
indeed left the national existence nearly unaltered ; 
but time, as it changed the government of Rome, 

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modified likewise the institutions of the Greeks, 
Still, neither the Roman Caesars, nor the Byzantine 
emperors, any more than the Frank princes and 
Turkish sultans, were able to interrupt the continual 
transmission of a political inheritance by each 
generation of the Greek race to its successors; 
though it is too true, that, from age to age, the 
value of that inheritance was gradually diminished. 

The history of the Greek nation, even as a subject 
people, cannot be destitute of interest and instruc- 
tion. The Greeks are the only existing repre- 
sentatives of the ancient world. They have main- 
tained possession of their country, their language, 
and their social organization, against physical and 
moral forces, which have swept from the face of 
the earth all their early cotemporaries, friends and 
enemies. It can hardly be disputed, that the pre- 
servation of their national existence is to be partly 
attributed to the institutions which they have 
received from their ancestors. The work now 
offered to the public will attempt to trace the 
effects of the ancient institutions on the fortunes 
of the people under the Roman government, and 
to shew in what manner they were modified and 
supported by other circumstances. 

It was impossible, in the following pages, to omit 
treating, at times, of events already illustrated by 
the genius of Gibbon. But these events must be 
viewed by the historian of the Roman empire, and of 

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x ii PREFACE. 

the Greek people, under very different aspects. 
The observations of both may be equally true, 
though inferior skill and judgment may render the 
views, in the present work, less correct as a picture, 
and less impressive as a history. The same facts 
afford innumerable conclusions to different indivi- 
duals, and in different ages. History will ever 
remain inexhaustible ; and much as we have read of 
the Greeks and Romans, and deeply as we appear 
to have studied their records, there is much still to 
be learned from the same sources. 

In the references to the authorities followed in 
this work, a preference will often be shewn to those 
modern treatises, which ought to be in the hands of 
the general reader. It has often required profound 
investigation, and long discussion, to elicit a fact 
now generally known, or to settle an opinion now 
universally adopted, and in such cases it would be 
useless to collect a long array of ancient passages. 

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323. Death of Alexander the Great. 

321. Egyptian monarchy of the Ptolemies established by the 

defeat of the Regent Perdiccas. 
312. Era of the Seleucidsa dated from the time Seleucus recovered 

Babylonia, which is considered as the foundation of the 

Syrian monarchy. 
310. Agathocles invaded the Carthaginian territories in Africa. 
303. Demetrius Poliorcetes compelled to raise the siege of 

300. The kingdom of Pontns established its independence under 

Mithridates Ariobarzanes. 
280. Commencement of the Achaean League. 

Pyrrhus landed in Italy to defend the Greeks against tlie 

279. The Gauls invaded Greece, and were repulsed at Delphi. 
278. Nicomedes secures himself in the kingdom of Bithynia by 

calling the Gauls into Asia. 
271. The Romans completed the conquest of Magna Groecia. 
250. The Parthian monarchy founded by Arsaces. 

The Greek kingdom of Bactriana founded. 
241. Attains king of Pergamus. 
212. Syracuse taken by the Romans, and the Sicilian Greeks 

197. Battle of Cynoscephaloo. 
196. The Greeks declared to be free by Flamininus at the 

Isthmian games. 
190. Antiochus the Great invaded Greece. 

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188. The laws of Lycurgus abrogated by Philopoemen. 
168. Battle of Pydna, and end of the Macedonian monarchy. 
167. One thousand of the principal citizens in Achsea carried to 

Rome as hostages. 
146. Mummius took Corinth, and reduced Greece to a Roman 

141. Extinction of the Greek monarchy of Bactriana. 
133 or 102. Rebellion of slaves in the Attic silver mines. 

86. Sylla took Athens. 

77. Depredations of the pirates throughout Greece. 

67. Crete conquered by Metellus. 

66. Monarchy of the ScleUcidse destroyed by Pompey. 

48. Csosar destroyed Megara. 

44. Ccesar restored Corinth as a Roman colony. 

30. Augustus founded Nicopolis. 

21. Augustus deprived Athens of its jurisdiction over Eretria 

and JEgina, and established the confederacy of the free 
Laconian cities. 
a. d. Year of Rome, 753. Olympiad, 194. 4th year. The birth 
of Christ in the year 5509 of the world according to the 
Byzantins, or 5507, as the Greek fathers place the birth 
of Christ two years before the received era. 

22. Tho Senate restricted the right of asylum claimed by many 

Greek temples and sanctuaries. 
93. Josephus. Epictetus. 
100. Plutarch. 
124. Arrian. Lucian. 
143. Herodes Atticus consul. 
150. Appian. 
160. Ptolemy. 
170. Pausanias. Galen. 
200. Oppian. Clemens Alexandrinus. Diogenes Laerti us. Philos- 

212. Edict of Caracalla conferred Roman citizenship on all the 

free inhabitants of the empire. 
215. Athenseus. 
220. Dion Cassius. 
226. Artaxerxes overthrew the Parthian empire, and founded 

that of the Sassanides. Year 538 of the era of the 


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A. D. 

240. Herodian. Lilian. Longinus. 

251. The Emperor Decius defeated and slain by the Goths. 

267. Invasion of Greece by the Goths. Athens taken, and 

recovered by Dexippus. 
284. Era of Diocletian, called the era of the martyrs. 
312. 1st September. The cycle of indictions was first reckoned 

from this year. 
325. Council of Nice. 
330. Dedication of Constantinople as the capital of the Roman 



330. Foundation of Constantinople. 

332. Cherson assists Constantino against the Goths. 

337. Constantino II. Constantius, Constant, emperors. 

361. Julian. 

362. Julian re-establishes paganism as the religion of the empire. 

Earthquake in Greece, Asia Minor, Palestine, and Sicily. 

363. Jovian. 

364. Valentinian Valens. 

365. Earthquake in Greece, Asia Minor, and Sicily. Amm. Mar. 

xxvi. 10. 

375. Earthquake in Greece and Crete, before the death of 

Valentinian, felt especially in Peloponnesus. Zosmus, 
iv. 18. Gratian. 

376. Visigoths permitted by Valens to pass the Danube. 

378. Defeat and death of Valens. Valentinian II. 

379. Theodosius. 

392. Law of Theodosius against the abuse of asylums in churches. 

395. Arcadius, and Honorius. Huns ravage Asia Minor as far 

as Syria. Alaric invades Greece 

398. Alaric named governor of Eastern Illyricum. 

408. Theodosius II. 

428. Genseric enters Africa with the Vandals. 

438. Publication of Theodosian Code. 

439. Genseric takes Carthage. Eudocia (Athenais) visits Jeru- 

441. Theodosius sends a fleet against Genseric. 

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A. D. 

442. Attila invades Thrace and Macedonia. 

447. Attila again ravages Thrace, and takes seventy cities. 

450. Marcian. 

457. Leo, called by the Greeks the Great, the Elder, and the 


458. Great earthquake felt at Antioch and Cnidus, and in Cos, 

the Cyclades, Isauria, Ionia, and Thrace. 
460. Earthquake at Cyzicus. 
462. Maroellinus, who had defended Sicily against the Vandals, 

seizes Dalmatia, and holds it independent of the two 

465. Fire, which destroyed eight of the sixteen quarters of 


468. Leo sends an expedition against Genseric. 

469. Excessive rains at Constantinople and in Bithynia. 
474. Leo II. Zeno the Isaurian. 

480. Earthquakes felt for forty days successively at Constan- 
tinople. The statue of Theodosius the Great thrown 
down from the column on which it stood. 

485. Bulgarians appear beyond the Danube. 

491. Anastasius, (Flavius,) called Dicorus. 

499. Bulgarians invade the empire. 

507. Anastasius constructs the long wall to protect Constantinople. 

518. Terrible earthquake in Dardania and Illyria. Justin. 

527. Justinian ascends the throne. 


527. Accession of Justinian. Gretes, King of the Heruls, receives 

baptism at Constantinople. The Tzans submit to the 
Roman empire. 

528. Gordas, king of the Huns on the Cimmerian Bosporus, 

receives baptism at Constantinople, but is murdered by 
his subjects on his return. Germanus defeats the Antes 
on the banks of the Danube. Justinian commences his 
lavish expenditure on fortifications and public buildings 
over the whole empire. 

529. First edition of the Code published. Rebellion of the 

Samaritans. Romans defeated by Persians at Mindon. 

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A. D. 

530. Persians defeated at Dara. Hilbudius defeats the Sclavonians. 

531. Battle at Callinicum. Death of Cobad. Negotiations for 

peace with Persia. Dreadful plague commenced, which 
ravaged the empire fifty years. 

532. Great sedition of the Nika at Constantinople, suppressed by 

Belisarius. War declared against the Vandals. The 
Abbot Dionysius Exiguus, by his tables of the Easter 
festivals, fixed the date of the Christian era. 

533. Peace with Persia. Hilbudius defeated and slain by the 

Sclavonians. Conquest of Africa. Institutions and 
Pandects published. 

534. Sardinia, Corsica, and the Balearic Island occupied by the 

Romans. Belisarius returns to Constantinople with 
Gelimer. Second edition of Code. 

535. Conquest of Sicily. Dalmatia conquered and reconquered. 

536. Revolt of Roman troops in Africa. Belisarius invades Italy, 

and takes Rome. A very cold year, the sun shining . 

537. Siege of Rome by Witiges. Exile and death of Pope Sil- 

vester. Dedication of St Sophias at Constantinople. 

538. Bulgarians invade the empire. Milan destroyed by Goths. 

Famine in the north of Italy. 

539. Witiges sends ambassadors to the Lombards and Persians to 

demand assistance. Surrender of Ravenna, and capture 
of Witiges. Romans defeated by Gepids. A plundering 
incursion of the Hans extended over Thrace and Greece, 
to the Isthmus of Corinth. Peoc. Pers. ii. 4. 

540. Chosroes invades Syria. Capture and sack of Antioch, 

Totila king of the Goths. 

541. Consulate abolished by Justinian after existing 1049 years. 

542. Belisarius employed against Chosroes in person. Earth- 

quake and plague at Constantinople, 10,000 persons 
perished in one day. 

543. Solomon, the governor of Africa, defeated and killed by the 


544. Belisarius sent to oppose Totila in Italy. 

546. Rome taken by Totila. John the Patrician takes the com- 
mand in Africa. 
548. Belisarius quits Italy. 

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A. D. 

549. Rome retaken by Totila. Sicily conquered, but recovered 

by Artaban. 

550. Sclavonians and Huns invade the empire. Persian war in 

Lazica. Earthquakes in Phoenicia, Palestine, Syria, and 

551. Introduction of silk worm. N arses sent to Italy. Earth- 

quake in Greece. 

552. Totila defeated, and Rome retaken by Narses. 

553. Goths under Teras again defeated. Conquests in Spain. 

554. Franks and Germans defeated by Narses. Earthquakes at 

Constantinople, Nicomedia, Berytns, and Cos, and church 

at Cyzicus fell during service. 
556, Terrible earthquake at Constantinople. The emperor did 

not wear his crown for forty days. Agathias, v. 145. 
558. Zabergan, king of the Cutigour Huns, defeated before the 

walls of Constantinople by Belisarius. Embassy of the 


563. Treaty of peace with Persia. Belisarius accused of being 

privy to a conspiracy, falls into disgrace, and his property 
is confiscated. 

564. Embassy of the Turks. Justinian favours the Eutychians. 

565. Death of Justinian. 


565. November. Justin the Second ascended the throne. 

567. Kingdom of Gepids destroyed by Lombards. 

568. Italy invaded by Lombards. 

570. Mohammed born. 

571. Justin sends an embassy to the khan of the Turks. 

572. War commenced between the Roman empire and Persia. 

573. War with the Avars. 

574. Infirm health of Justin induces him to name Tiberius 

576. Battle of Melitene. Romans penetrate to Caspian Sea. 

578. Death of Justin. Tiberius emperor. 

579. Death of Chosroes. 

580. Battle of Callinicum. Avars take Sirmium. 

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A. D. 

581. Persian army defeated by Maurice at Constantine. 

582. Tiberius names Maurice his successor. Dies. 

John the Faster, Patriarch of Constantinople, uses the title 
(Ecumenic, granted to the patriarchs by Justinian. 

583. Avars recommence war. 

586. Battle of Solacon. 

587. Roman army defeated by Avars. 

588. Sedition of the army employed against Persia. 

590. Rebellion in Persia. Chosroes, son of Hormisdas, flies to 


591. Chosroes II. restored by Maurice. Maurice quits the capital 

to march against the Avars. 
593. Prisons defeats the Sclavonians. 

600. Maurice concludes a peace with the Avars without ransoming 

the prisoners. 

601. War recommenced. 

602. Sedition of the Roman army. Maurice dethroned. Phocas 


603. Chosroes declares war. 

604. Phocas concludes a peace with the Avars. 

609. Persians advance to Chalcedon. 

610. Phocas slain. Heraclius emperor. 

613. Sedition of the Jews. 

614. Sisebut, king of the Visigoths, conquers the greater part of 

the Roman possessions in Spain. # 

615. Heraclius sends Niketas the Patrician to seize the wealth of 

John, the charitable patriarch of Alexandria. 

616. Persians invade Egypt. 

618. Abolition of public distribution of grain at Constantinople. 

619. Avars attempt to seize Heraclius by treachery. 

620. Peace with Avars. 

622. First campaign of Heraclius against the Persians. 
16th July. Era of the Hegira of Mohammed. 

623. Second campaign against Persians. Roman possessions in 

Spain lost. 

624. Third campaign. 

625. Fourth campaign. 

626. Constantinople besieged by Persians and Avars. 

627. Fifth campaign. 

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A. D. 

628. Sixth campaign. Death of Chosroes. Peace with Siroes. 

629. Heraclius carries the Holy Gross to Jerusalem. 

630. Heraclius occupied with ecclesiastical reforms. 

632. Death of Mohammed. Era of Jezdedjerd reckoned from 

16th June. 

633. Invasion of Syria by Arabs. Bozra taken. 

634. Battle of Adjnadin. Abubekrs death. Heraclius leaves 


635. Arabs take Emesa, Alhadir, and Kinnesrin. 

636. Baalbec pays tribute. Battle of Yermouk. 

637. Caliph Omer takes possession of Jerusalem. Capture of 


638. Constantino, son of Heraclius, defeated, and Antioch taken. 

Battle of Csesarea. 

639. Arabs conquer Mesopotamia. Ecthesis of Heraclius. 

640. Arabs conquer Egypt, and capture Alexandria. 

641. Death of Heraclius. 


641. Constantine the Third and Heracleonas emperors. Constans 
the Second. Taking of Alexandria by the Saracens. 

645. Persia conquered by the Arabs. 

646. Alexandria retaken by the Romans, and recovered by 


647. Arabs invade Africa. 

648. Arabs invade Cyprus. Type of Constans the Second. 

651. Cos and Rhodes invaded by the Arabs. The colossus 

654. Pope Martin brought to Constantinople for trial. 

655. Battle between the Roman and Arab fleets off Mount 

658. Expedition 'of Constans against the Sclavonians. Peace 

with the Caliph Moawyah. 
660. Constans orders his brother Theodore the Deacon to be 

662. Constans quits Constantinople, and passes the winter at 


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A. D. 

663. Visits Italy, and is defeated before Beneventum. Visits 

Rome. Retires to Sicily. 
665. Wars of the Romans and Saracens in Africa. 

668. Assassination of Constans. Constantino IV. Pogonatus. 

669. Constantino visits Sicily to avenge his father s death. 

670. Cairowan founded, and taken by the Romans. 

672. Invention of Greek fire by Callinicus. Saracens besiege 
Constantinople, and continue the attack every summer 
for seven years. 

672. Saracens form a winter camp at Cyzicus. 

679. Defeat of the Saracen armament. Peace with Moawyah. 

Constantino defeated by the Bulgarians. 

680. General council of the church at Constantinople against the 


681. Constantino deprives his brothers of the title of Augustus, 

and cuts off their noses. 
685. Death of Constantine Pogonatus. Justinian the Second 

called Rhinometus. 
688. Bulgarian war. 
692. War with the Saracens, and desertion of the Sclavonian 

troops. Establishment of Haratch. General council of 

the church in Trvllo. 
695. Revolution at Constantinople, Justinian dethroned, his nose 

cut off, and sent into exile at Cherson. Leontius 


697, First doge of Venice elected. Carthage taken by the 

Saracens, retaken, and lost by the Romans. 

698. Leontius dethroned, and Tiberius Apsimar emperor. 

703. Successful campaign of Heraclius, the brother of the 

Emperior Tiberius, against the Saracens. 
705. Justinian returns to Constantinople, with a Bulgarian army, 

and dethrones Tiberius Apsimar. 

710. Cruelties of Justinian against Ravenna and Cherson. 

711. Army at Cherson rebels, and places Philippicus on the 

throne. Death of Justinian. 

712. Philippicus emperor. 

713. Philippicus dethroned. Anastasius the Second emperor. 
715. Fleet sent against the Saracens, under John the Deacon, 

rebels, and returns, having appointed Theodosius emperor. 

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A. D. 

716. Anastasius dethroned, and Theodosius the Third emperor. 

Leo the Isaurian declared emperor at Amorium. 

717. Constantinople besieged by the Saracens. 

718. Saracen armament defeated. 

723. Sardinia conquered by the Saracens. 

726. Edict of Leo against picture-worship. 

727. The Greek expedition, to restore image-worship, defeated 

before Constantinople. 

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PIRE. B. C. 146, to A. D. 330. 


The conquests of Alexander the Great effected a 
permanent change in the political condition of the 
Greek nation, and this change powerfully influenced 
its moral and social state during the whole period of 
its subjection to the Roman empire. The inter- 
national system of policy by which Alexander con- 
nected Greece with Western Asia and Egypt, was 

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only effaced by the religion of Mohammed, and the 
conquests of the Arabs. Though Alexander was 
himself a Greek, both from education, and the pre- 
judices cherished by the pride of ancestry, still, 
neither the people of Macedonia, nor the chief part 
of the army, whose discipline and valour had secured 
his victories, was Greek, either in language or feel- 
ings.* Had Alexander, therefore, determined on 
organizing his empire with the view of uniting the 
Macedonians and Persians in common feelings of 
opposition to the Greek nation, there can be no 
doubt, that he could easily have accomplished the 
design. The Greeks might then have found them- 
selves enabled to adopt a very different course in 
their national career from that which they were 
compelled to follow by the powerful influence exer- 
cised over them by Alexander's conduct. Alexander 
himself, undoubtedly, perceived, that the greater 
numbers of the Persians, and their equality, if not 
superiority, in civilization to the Macedonians, ren- 
dered it necessary for him to seek some powerful 
ally to prevent the absorption of the Macedonians 
in the Persian population, the loss of their language, 
manners, and nationality, and the speedy change of 
his empire into the sovereignty of a mere Graeco- 
Persian dynasty. It did not escape his discernment, 
that the political institutions of the Greeks created 
a principle of nationality capable of combating the 
unalterable laws of the Medes and Persians. 

* Q. Curtius, vi. 9. 35. K. O. MUllkr ueber die Makedoner, p. 34. 
MUllkr's Dorians, i. 499, Eng. trans. Plutarch (Aratut, 38) shews us 
the light in which the Greeks viewed the noblest Macedonians when com- 
pared with the Spartans. 

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Alexander was the noblest model of a conqueror ; 
his ambition aspired at eclipsing the glory of his 
unparalleled victories by the universal prosperity 
which was to flow from his civil government. New 
cities and extended commerce were to found an era 
in the world's history. Even the strength of his 
empire was to be based on a political principle which 
he has the merit of discovering, and of which he 
proved the efficacy ; this principle was the amalgama- 
tion of his subjects into one people by permanent 
institutions. All other conquerors have endeavoured 
to augment their power by the subjection of one race 
to another* The merit of Alexander is very much 
increased by the nature of his position with regard 
to the Greek nation. The Greeks were not favour- 
ably disposed either towards his empire or his person ; 
they would willingly have destroyed both as the 
surest way of securing their own liberty. But the 
moral energy of the Greek national character did not 
escape the observation of Alexander, and he resolved 
to render this quality available for the preservation 
of his empire, by introducing into the East those 
municipal institutions which gave it vigour, and thus 
facilitating the infusion of some portion of the 
Hellenic character into the hearts of his conquered 

The moderation of Alexander in the execution of 
his plans of reform and change is as remarkable as 

* History and poetry seem to have taken Alexander as the type of an 
ambitious warrior. The phrase, u Macedonia's madman," and the circum- 
stance of his weeping for worlds to conquer, hardly convey a correct idea 
of one whose views of glory were so intimately connected with the effects 
his conquests were to produce. From Alexandria to Candahar the unlettered 
do him more justice. 

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the wisdom of his extensive projects. In order to 
mould the Asiatics to his wishes, he did not attempt 
to enforce laws and constitutions similar to those of 
Greece. He had profited too well by the lessons of 
Aristotle to think of treating man as a machine. 
But he introduced Greek civilization as an important 
element in his civil government, and established 
Greek colonies with political rights throughout his 
conquests. It is true, that he seized all the unlimited 
power of the Persian monarchs, but, at the same time, 
he strove to secure administrative responsibility, and 
to establish free institutions in municipal government. 
Any laws or constitution which Alexander could 
have promulgated to enforce his system of consoli- 
dating the population of his empire into one body, 
w r ould most probably have been immediately repealed 
by his successors, in consequence of the hostile 
feelings of the Macedonian army. But it was more 
difficult to escape from the tendency imprinted on the 
administration by the systematic arrangements which 
Alexander had introduced. He seems to have been 
fully aware of this fact, though it is impossible to 
trace the whole series of measures he adopted to 
accelerate the completion of his great project of 
creating a new state of society, and a new nation, as 
well as a new empire, in the imperfect records of his 
civil administration which have survived. His death 
left his own scheme incomplete, yet his success was 
wonderful ; for though his empire was immediately 
dismembered, its numerous portions long retained a 
deep imprint of that Greek civilization which he had 
introduced. The influence of his philanthropic policy 
survived the kingdoms which his arms had founded, 

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and tempered the despotic sway of the Romans by its 
superior power over society ; nor was the influence 
of Alexander's government utterly effaced in Asia 
until Mahommed changed the government, the reli- 
gion, and the frame of society in the East. 

The monarchs of Egypt, Syria, Pergamus, and 
Bactriana, who were either Macedonians or Greeks, 
respected the civil institutions, the language, and the 
religion of their native subjects, however adverse 
they might be to Greek usages ; and the sovereigns 
of Bithynia, Pontus, Cappadocia, and Parthia, though 
native princes, retained a deep tincture of Greek 
civilization after they had thrown off the Macedonian 
yoke. They not only encouraged the arts, sciences, 
and literature of Greece, but they even protected the 
peculiar political constitutions of the Greek colonies 
settled in their dominions, though at variance with 
the Asiatic views of monarchical government. 

The Greeks and Macedonians long continued 
separate nations, though a number of the causes 
which ultimately produced their fusion began to 
exert some influence shortly after the death of 
Alexander. The moral and social causes which 
enabled the Greeks to acquire a complete superiority 
over the Macedonian race, and ultimately to absorb 
it as a component element of their own nation, were 
the same which afterwards enabled them to destroy 
the Roman influence in the East. For several 
generations, the Greeks appeared the feebler party 
in their struggle with the Macedonians. The new 
kingdoms, into which Alexander's empire was divided, 
were placed in very different circumstances from the 
older Greek states. Two separate divisions were 

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created in the Hellenic world, and the Macedonian 
monarchies on the one hand, and the free Greeks on 
the other, formed two distinct international systems 
of policy. The Macedonian sovereigns had a balance 
of power to maintain, in which the free states of 
Europe could only be directly interested when the 
overwhelming influence of a conqueror placed their 
independence in jeopardy. The multifarious diplo- 
matic relations of the free states among themselves 
required constant attention, not only to maintain 
their political independence, but even to protect 
their property and civil rights. The two great 
divisions of Hellenic civic society were often governed 
by opposite views and feelings in morals and politics, 
though they were continually placed in collision or 
alliance with one another in their struggles to pre- 
serve the balance of their respective systems. 

The immense power and wealth of the Seleucidee 
and Ptolemies rendered vain all the efforts of the 
small European states to maintain the high military, 
civil, and literary rank they had previously occupied. 
Their best soldiers, their wisest statesmen, and their 
ablest authors, were induced to emigrate to a more 
profitable and extensive scene of action. Alexandria 
became the capital of the Hellenic world. Yet the 
history of the European states still continued to 
maintain its predominant interest, and as a political 
lesson, the struggles of the Achaean League to defend 
the independence of Greece against Macedonia and 
Rome, are as instructive as the annals of Athens and 
Sparta. The European Greeks at this period per- 
ceived all the danger to which their liberties were 
exposed from the wealth and power of the Asiatic 

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monarchies, and they vainly endeavoured to effect a 
combination of all the free states into one federal 
body. Whatever might have been the success of 
such a combination, it certainly offered the only hope 
of preserving the liberty of Greece against the 
powerful states with which the altered condition of 
the civilized world had brought her into contact. 

At the very time when the Macedonian kings 
were attacking the independence of Greece, and the 
Asiatic courts undermining the morals of the Greek 
nation, the Greek colonies, whose independence, 
from their remote situation, was secured against the 
attacks of the Eastern monarchs, were conquered 
by the Romans. Many circumstances tending to 
weaken the Greeks, and over which they had no 
control, followed one another with fatal celerity. 
The invasion of the Gauls, though bravely repulsed, 
inflicted great losses on Greece.* Shortly after, the 
Romans completed the conquest of the Greek states 
in Italy .f From that time the Sicilian Greeks were 
too feeble to be any thing but spectators of the fierce 
struggle of the Romans and Carthaginians for the 
sovereignty of their island, and though the city of 
Syracuse courageously defended its independence, 
the struggle was a hopeless tribute to national glory 4 
The cities of Cyrenaica had been long subject to the 
Ptolemies, and the republics on the shores of the 
Black Sea had been unable to maintain their liberties 
against the repeated attacks of the sovereigns of 
Pontus and Bithynia.$ 

Though the Macedonians and Greeks were sepa- 

♦ B. C. 279. f B. C. 272. t B. C. 212. 

§ B.C. 220. PoLYBius,iY.56. Strabo, 1. 7. p. 93. Ed. Tauch. Memnonis 
Heracl&s, Ponti H'utor. excerpt, Liptiw, 1816. Ed. J. C. Orelliua. 

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rated into two divisions by the opposite interests of 
the Asiatic monarchies and the European republics, 
still they were united by a powerful bond of national 
feelings. There was a strong similarity in the edu- 
cation, religion, and social position of the individual 
citizen in every state, whether Greek or Macedonian. 
Wherever Hellenic civilization was received, the free 
citizens formed only one part of the population, 
whether the other was composed of slaves or subjects ; 
and this peculiarity placed their civil interests as 
Greeks in a more important light than their political 
differences as subjects of various states. The Mace- 
donian Greeks of Asia and Egypt were a ruling class, 
governed, it is true, by an absolute sovereign, but 
having their interest so identified with his, in the 
vital question of retaining the administration of the 
country, that the Greeks, even in the absolute 
monarchies, formed a favoured and privileged class. 
In the Greek republics, the case was not very dis- 
similar ; there, too, a small body of free citizens ruled 
a large slave or subject population, whose numbers 
required not only constant attention on the part of 
the rulers, but likewise a deep conviction of an 
ineffaceable separation in interests and character, 
to preserve the ascendency. This peculiarity in the 
position of the Greeks, cherished their exclusive 
nationality, and created a feeling, that laws of honour 
and of nations forbade free men ever to make common 
cause with slaves. The influence of this feeling was 
visible for centuries on the laws and education of the 
free citizens of Greece, and it was equally powerful 
wherever Hellenic civilization spread. * 

* Plutarch, Sylla, xviii. Plutarch, in Hyperide, Cato, 78. Appian 
De Bell. Civ. I. Tacitus Ann. xiv. 42. Dia. xxix. 5. 1. 32. 39. 

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Alexander's conquests soon exercised a widely ex- 
tended influence on the commerce, literature, morals, 
and religion of the Greeks. A direct communication 
was soon opened with India, the centre of Asia, and 
the southern coast of Africa. The immense exten- 
sion of the commeroial transactions of the Asiatic 
and Egyptian Greeks, soon diminished the relative 
wealth and importance of the European states, and at 
the same time, their stationary position assumed the 
aspect of decline from the rapidly increasing power 
and civilization of Western Europe. A considerable 
trade began to be carried on directly with the great 
commercial depots of the East which had formerly 
afforded large profits to the Greeks of Europe by its 
indirect channels. As soon as Rome rose to some 
degree of power, its inhabitants, if not its franchised 
citizens, traded with the East, as is proved by the 
existence of political relations between Rome and 
Rhodes, more than three centuries before the Chris- 
tian era.* There can be no doubt, that the connec- 
tion between the two states had its origin in the 
interests of trade. New channels were opened for 
mercantile enterprize as direct communications dimi- 
nished the expense of transport. The increase of 
trade rendered piracy a profitable occupation, for 
sovereigns and merchants were compelled to navi- 
gate under the protection of powerful states, in 

* Poltbius, xxx. 5. 6. Clinton's Fatti HeUtniei, iii. 84. 2. The earliest 
connection of Rome with Carthage was also commercial, consequently, the 
trading portion of the Roman state was not unimportant, though it was not 
represented in the body politic. This explains the adverse assertions of 
Polybius in his first book, (c. 1.) with the fact of the existence of the 
Carthaginian treaties noticed in his third. The Romans had trade worth 
regulating by treaty five hundred yeans before the Christian era, though 
personally they despised commerce. 

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order to secure their property from extortion and 
plunder.* These alterations in commercial affairs 
proved every way disadvantageous to the small repub- 
lics of European Greece ; and Alexandria and Rhodes 
soon occupied the position once held by Corinth and 

The literature of a people is so intimately connected 
with the local circumstances which influence educa- 
tion, taste, and morals, that it can never be trans- 
planted without undergoing a great alteration. It is 
not wonderful, therefore, that the literature of the 
Greeks, after the extension of their dominion in the 
East, should have undergone a great change ; but it 
seems remarkable that this change should have 
proved invariably injurious to all its peculiar excel- 
lencies. It is singular, at the same time, to find how 
little the Greeks occupied themselves in the examina- 
tion of the stores of knowledge possessed by the 
Eastern nations. The situation and interests of the 
Asiatic and Egyptian Greeks must have compelled 
many to learn the languages of the countries which 
they inhabited, and the literature of the East was laid 
open to their investigation. They appear to have 
availed themselves very sparingly of these advantages. 
Even in history and geography, they made but small 
additions to the information already collected by 
Herodotus, Ctesias, and Xenophon, and this superci- 
lious neglect of foreign literature has been the cause 
of depriving modern times of all records of the power- 
ful and civilized nations which flourished while Greece 
was in a state of barbarism. Had the Macedonians 

* The Piracies of Soerdiliadas. Polydius, t. 95. 

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or Romans treated the history and literature of Greece 
with the contempt which the Greeks shewed to the 
records of the Phoenicians, Persians, and Egyptians, 
it is not probable that any very extensive remains of 
later Greek literature would have reached us.* At 
a period when the Arabs, after they had conquered 
the Syrian and Egyptian Greeks, neglected their 
language and their literature, the effects of such 
conduct were severely felt. 

The munificence of the Ptolemies, the Seleucidae, 
and the kings of Pergamus, soon enabled their capi- 
tals to eclipse the literary glory of the cities of 
Greece. The eminent men of Europe sought their 
fortunes abroad ; but while they transplanted their 
own genius, they could not transplant those circum- 
stances which created and sustained it. In Egypt 
and in Syria, Greek literature lost its peculiar na- 
tional character ; and that divine instinct in the por- 
traiture of nature, which had been the charm and 
characteristic of its earlier age, never emigrated. 
This deficiency forms, indeed, the marked distinction 
between the literature of the Grecian and Mace- 
donian periods ; and it was a natural consequence of 
the different situations held by literary men. Among 
the Asiatic and Alexandrine population, knowledge 
was confined to the higher classes, and literary pro- 
ductions were addressed to a public widely dispersed 
and dissimilar in many tastes and habits. The 
authors who addressed themselves to such a public 
could not escape a vagueness of expression on some 

* The general introduction of the Latin language as the official means of 
communication in the East, which, from the time of Caracalla, was almost 
universal, was not without its effect on Greek literature. Even Greek 
inscriptions of a public nature become rare after the time of Caracalla. 

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subjects, and an affectation of occult profundity 
on others. Learning and science, in so far as they 
could be rendered available for upholding literary 
renown, Mere most studiously cultivated, and most 
successfully employed; but deep feeling, warm 
enthusiasm, and simple truth, were, from the very 
nature of the case, impossible. 

The frame of society in the earlier times had been 
very different in the free states of Greece. Litera- 
ture and the fine arts then formed a portion of the 
usual education and ordinary life of every citizen in 
the state ; they were consequently completely under 
the influence of public opinion, and received the im- 
press of the national mind which they reflected from 
the mirror of genius. The effects of this popular cha- 
racter in Greek literature and art are evident, in the 
total freedom of all the productions of Greece, in her 
best days, from any thing that partakes of mannerism 
or exaggeration. The truer to nature any production 
could be rendered, which was to be offered to the 
attention of the people, the abler would they be to 
appreciate its merits, and their applause would be 
obtained with greater certainty; yet, at the same 
time, the farther the expression of nature could be 
removed from vulgarity, the higher would be the 
degree of general admiration. The sentiment neces- 
sary for the realization of ideal perfection, which 
modern civilization vainly requires from those who 
labour only for the polished and artificial classes of 
a society broken into sections, arose, in profusion, 
under the free instinct of the popular mind, to reve- 
rence simplicity and nature, when combined with 
beauty and dignity. 

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The connection of the Greeks with Assyria and 
Egypt, nevertheless, aided their progress in mathe- 
matics and scientific knowledge ; yet astrology was 
the only new object of science which their Eastern 
studies added to the domain of the human intellect. 
From the time Berosus introduced astrology into 
Cos, it spread with inconceivable rapidity in Europe. 
It soon exercised a powerful influence over the reli- 
gious opinions of the higher classes, naturally inclined 
to fatalism, and assisted in demoralizing the private 
and public character of the Greeks. From the Greeks 
it spread with additional empiricism among the 
Romans : it even maintained its ground against Chris- 
tianity, with which it long strove to form an alliance, 
and it has only been extirpated in modern times. * 
The Romans, as long as they clung to their national 
usages and religious feelings, endeavoured to resist 
the progress of a science so destructive to private 
and public virtue ; but it embodied opinions which 
were rapidly gaining ground. In the time of the 
Caesars, astrology was generally believed, and exten- 
sively practised, f 

The general corruption of morals which followed 
from the Macedonian conquests, was the inevitable 
effect of the position in which mankind were every 
where placed. The accumulated treasures of the 

* Astrology was adopted by the Christians at an early period. St Antony 
was a believer in its scientific pretensions. 

f The astrologers or Chaldfeans, as they were called, were banished from 
Rome, A. D. 179. Valerius Max. i. 3. 2. Tacitus recounts a remarkable 
instance of the superstition of Tiberius, accompanied by some very curious 
reflections of his own. Annals, vi. 20 — 22 ; see also, Hitt. i. 22 ; and 
Vitbuvius, ix. 7. 

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Persian empire, which must have amounted to 
between seventy and eighty millions sterling, were 
suddenly thrown into general circulation. The Greeks 
were generally enriched, and their position in society 
had been so frequently changed, that public opinion 
ceased to exercise a direct influence on private cha- 
racter. The mixture of Macedonians, Greeks, and 
natives, in the conquered countries of the East, was 
very incomplete, and they generally formed distinct 
classes of society ; this circumstance alone contributed 
to weaken the feelings of moral responsibility, which 
are the most powerful preservatives of virtue. It is 
difficult to imagine a state of society more completely 
destitute of moral restraint than that in which the 
Asiatic Greeks lived. Public opinion was powerless 
to enforce even an outward respect for virtue ; mili- 
tary accomplishments, talents for civil administration, 
and literary eminence, were the direct roads to dis- 
tinction and wealth ; honesty and virtue were very 
secondary qualities. In all countries or societies 
where a class becomes predominant, a conventional 
character is formed, according to the exigencies of 
the case, as the standard of an honourable man ; and 
it is usually very different, indeed, from what is really 
necessary to constitute a virtuous, or even an honest 

With regard to the European Greeks, high rank 
at the Asiatic courts was often suddenly, and, indeed, 
accidentally placed within their reach, by qualities 
that had in general only been cultivated as a means 
of obtaining a livelihood. It is not, therefore, won- 
derful, that wealth and power, obtained under such 

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circumstances, should have been wasted in luxury, 
and squandered in the gratification of lawless passions. 
Yet, in spite of the complaints most justly recorded 
in history against the luxury, idleness, avarice, and 
debauchery of the Greeks, it seems surprising that 
the national character resisted, so effectually as it did, 
the powerful means at work to accomplish its ruin. 
There never existed a people more perfectly at liberty 
to gratify every passion. During two hundred and 
fifty years, the Greeks were the dominant class in 
Asia ; and the corrupting influence of this predomi- 
nance was extended to the whole frame of society, 
in their European, as well as their Asiatic possessions. 
The history of the Achaean League, and the endeavours 
of Agis and Cleomenes to restore the ancient insti- 
tutions of Sparta, prove that public and private virtue 
were still admired and appreciated by the native 
Greeks. The Romans, who were the loudest in con- 
demning and satirizing the vices of the Greek nation, 
proved far less able to resist the allurements of wealth 
and power ; and in the course of one century, their 
demoralization far exceeded the corruption of the 
Greeks. The severe tone in which Polybius animad- 
verts on the vices of his countrymen, must always be 
contrasted with the picture of Roman depravity in 
the pages of Suetonius and Tacitus, in order to form 
a correct estimate of the moral position of the two 
nations. The Greeks afford a sad spectacle of the 
debasing influence of wealth and power on the 
higher classes ; but the Romans, after their Asiatic 
conquests, present the loathsome picture of a whole 
people throwing aside all moral restraint, and openly 

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wallowing in those vices which the higher classes 
elsewhere have generally striven to conceal. * 

The religion of the Greeks was little more than a 
section of the political constitution of the state. 
The power of religion depended on custom. Strictly 
speaking, therefore, the Greeks never possessed any 
thing more than a national form of worship, and their 
religious feelings produced no very important influ- 
ence on their moral conduct. The conquests of 
Alexander effected as great a change in religion as 
in manners. The Greeks willingly adopted the 
superstitious practices of the conquered nations, and, 
without hesitation, paid their devotions at the shrines 
of foreign divinities ; but, strange to say, they never 
appear to have profoundly investigated, either the 
metaphysical opinions, or the religious doctrines, of 
the Eastern nations. They treated with neglect the 
pure theism of Moses, and the sublime religious 
system of Zoroaster, while they cultivated a know- 
ledge of the astrology, necromancy, and sorcery of 
the Chaldaeans, Syrians, and Egyptians. 

The separation of the higher and lower ranks of 
society, which only commenced among the Greeks 
after their Asiatic conquests, produced a marked 
effect on the religious ideas of the nation. Among 
the wealthy and the learned, indifference to all 
religions rapidly gained ground. The philosophical 
speculations of Alexander's .age tended towards 
scepticism, and the state of mankind, in the following 
century, afforded practical proofs to the ancients of 

* Romans, chap. i. ver. 26 — 32. Juvenal, Tacitus, and Lucian, are 
full of illustrations. 

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the insufficiency of virtue and reason to ensure 
happiness and success either in public or private life. 
The consequence was, that the greater number 
embraced the belief in a blind overruling destiny, — 
while a few became atheists. The absurdities of 
popular paganism had been exposed and ridiculed, 
while its mythology had not yet been explained 
by philosophical allegories. No system of philo- 
sophy, on the other hand, had sought to enforce 
its moral truths among the people, by declaring 
the principle of responsibility. The lower orders 
were without philosophy ; the higher, without reli- 

This separation in the feelings and opinions of the 
different ranks of society, rendered the value of 
public opinion comparatively insignificant to the 
philosophers ; and consequently, their doctrines were 
no longer addressed to the popular mind. The 
education of the lower orders, which had always 
depended on the public lessons they had received 
from voluntary teachers, in the public places of 
resort, was henceforward neglected ; and the priests 
of the temples, the diviners and soothsayers, became 
their instructors and guides. Under such guidance, 
the old mythological fables and the new wonders of 
the Eastern magicians, were employed as the surest 
means of rendering the superstitious feelings of the 
people, and the popular dread of supernatural influ- 
ences, a source of profit to the priesthood.* While 
the educated became the votaries of Chaldapans and 

* Apuleius, Mttcm. viii. p. 571. 

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astrologers, the ignorant were the admirers of 
Egyptians and conjurers.* 

The Greek nation, immediately before the con- 
quest of the Romans, was rich both in wealth 
and numbers. Alexander had thrown the accu- 
mulated treasures of centuries into circulation ; the 
dismemberment of his empire prevented his succes- 
sors from draining the various countries of the 
world, to expend their resources on a single city. The 
number of capitals and independent cities in the 
Grecian w T orld kept money in circulation, and enabled 
trade to flourish, and the Greek population to 
increase. The elements of national prosperity are 
so various and complex, that a knowledge of the 
numbers of a people affords no certain criterion for 
estimating their wealth and happiness ; still, if it were 
possible to obtain accurate accounts of the popula- 
tion of all the countries inhabited by the Greeks 
after the death of Alexander, such knowledge would 
afford better means of estimating the real progress or 
decline of social civilization, than either the records 
which history has preserved of the results of ware 
and negotiations, or than the memorials of art and 
literature. The population of Greece, as of every 
other country, must have varied very much at 
different periods ; even the proportion of the slave to 
the free inhabitants can never have long remained 
exactly the same. We are, unfortunately, so com- 
pletely ignorant of the relative density of the Greek 

* Lucian's Alexander, and the Life of Apdttoniu* Tyancus, by Philos- 
tratus, belong to a much later period, but they afford the means of illustrating 
this subject. 

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population at different periods, and so well assured 
that its absolute numbers depended on many causes 
which it is now impossible to appreciate fully, that 
it would be a vain endeavour to attempt to fix the 
period w r hen the Greek race was most numerous. 
The empire of the Greeks was most extensive during 
the century which elapsed immediately after the 
death of Alexander ; but it would be unsafe to draw, 
from that single fact, any certain conclusion concern- 
ing the numbers of the Greek race at that period, 
as compared with the following century. 

The fallacy of any inferences concerning the 
population of ancient times, which are drawn from 
the numbers of the inhabitants in modern times, is 
apparent — when we reflect on the rapid increase of 
mankind, in the greater part of Europe, in late years. 
Gibbon estimates the population of the Roman 
empire, in the time of Claudius, at one hundred and 
twenty millions, and he supposed modern Europe to 
contain, at the time he wrote, one hundred and 
seven millions.* Seventy years have not yet elapsed, 
and yet the countries which he enumerated have 
upwards of two hundred and ten millions.f The 
variations which have taken place in the numbers of 
the Jews at different periods, illustrate the vicissitudes 
to which an expatriated population, like a large 
portion of the Greek nation, is always liable. The 
Jews have often been far less — perhaps they have 
been frequently more numerous — than they are 
at present, yet their numbers now seem to equal 
what they were at the era of the greatest wealth, 

• Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, i. 68. in 1776. 
f See the tables of population in the Almanack de Gotka. 

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power, and glory of their nation under Solo- 
mon.* A very judicious writer has estimated the 
population of continental Greece, Peloponnesus, 
and the Ionian Islands, at three millions and a half, 
during the period which elapsed from the Persian 
wars to the death of Alexander.! Now, if we admit 
a similar density of population in Crete, Cyprus, the 
islands of the Archipelago, and the colonies on the 
coasts of Thrace and Asia Minor, this number would 
require to be more than doubled. The population 
of European Greece seems to have declined after the 
time of Alexander. Money became more abundant ; 
it was easy for a Greek to make his fortune abroad ; 
increased wealth augmented the wants of the free 
citizens, and the smaller states became incapable of 
supporting as large a population as in earlier times, 
when wants were few r er, and emigration difficult. 
The size of properties, and the number of slaves, 
therefore, increased. The small diminution which 
had taken place in the population of Greece must, 
however, have been trifling, when compared with the 

* The census of David (2 Samuel, xxiv. 9) shews that the Jews were 
then about five millions. The immense riches of Solomon, (Kings, i. 10, 14, 
22,) who must have had about two millions sterling of annual revenue, and 
the present population of Malta and Guernsey, which is proportionally greater, 
render this neither improbable nor miraculous, In the time of our Saviour 
the Jews were very numerous, and very widely dispersed, and had already 
lost their own language, and adopted that of the countries they inhabited, 
Acts, ii. 9. The Greeks were always more tenacious of their language. See 
also Josephus, Ant. XIV. vii. 2. 

t Fynes Clinton, Fasti Hellenic*, ii. 386. But the extreme uncertainty 
of all calculations about populations in ancient times is evident from a com- 
parison of the various opinions of Boeckh and Letronne concerning the 
population of Attica ; of Brottier, Gibbon, and Dureau de la Malle concerning 
that of Rome. With regard to the population of Attica, Boeckh makes it 
500,000. Letronne only 220,000. See Leake's Topography of Athens and 
Attica, 2 vols. 1840. 

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immense increase in the Greek population of Asia 
and Egypt; and in Magna Grsecia, Sicily, and 
Cyrene, the number of the Greeks had not decreased.* 
Greek civilization had extended itself from the banks 
of the Indus to the pillars of Hercules, and from the 
shores of the Palus Mseotis to the island of Dios- 
corides. It may therefore be admitted, that the 
Greeks were, at no earlier period of their history, 
more numerous than at the time the Romans com- 
menced the subjugation of the countries which they 

The history of the Greeks under the Roman 
domination tends to correct the opinion, that national 
changes are to be solely attributed to those remark- 
able occurrences which alone find a place in the 
annals of states. It not unfrequently happened, 
that those events, which produced the greatest 
change on the fortunes of the Romans, exerted no 
very important or permanent influence on the fate 
of the Greeks; while, on the other hand, some 
change in the state of India, Bactria, Ethiopia, or 
Arabia, by altering the direction of commerce, 
powerfully influenced their prosperity and future 

* Cicero furnishes data for framing a calculation of the numbers of the 
population in Sicily in his time. They seem to have been about two millions, 
say, 1,200,000. — Economie politique des Remains, par Dubeau de la Mallb, 
ii. 380. We possess likewise exact information concerning the army and 
revenues of Ptolemy Fhiladelphus, (b. c. 245.) His kingdom embraced 
Egypt, Cyrenaica, Csele-Syria, Phoenicia, Cyprus, Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia, 
and Cilicia. His army consisted of 200,000 infantry, 20,000 cavalry, 2000 
war chariots, and 400 elephants. His fleet, of 1500 galleys of war, and 1000 
ships of transport. The annual revenues of his kingdom were 14,800 talents, 
or L.2,500,000 in money, and 1,500,000 artabas, or five million bushels of 
wheat paid in kind. His treasury was said to contain seven hundred and 
forty thousand talents, or above one hundred millions sterling. — Egypt under 
th€ Ptolemies, by Samuel Shabfe, p. 94. 

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destinies. The object of the following pages is to trace 
the great changes which took place in the Greek 
nation, from the period of the subjection of Greece by 
the Romans, to that of the conquest of the semi-Greek 
provinces which had belonged to the Macedonian 
empire, by the Saracens. The history of mankind 
requires a more accurate illustration than has yet 
been undertaken, of the causes of the general degra- 
dation of all the political governments with which 
we are acquainted, during this eventful period ; but 
the task belongs to universal history. To obtain a 
correct view of the social condition of the European 
nations in the darkest periods of the middle ages, it 
is necessary to examine society through a Greek as 
well as a Roman medium, and to weigh the expe- 
rience and the passions of the East against the force 
and the prejudices of the West. It will then be 
found, that many germs of that civilization which 
seemed to have arisen in the dark ages as a natural 
development of society, were really borrowed from 
the Greek people and the Byzantine empire. 



The great difference which existed in the social 
condition of the Greeks and Romans during the 
whole of their national existence, must be kept in 
view, in order to form a just idea of their relative 
position when ruled by the same government. The 
Romans formed a nation with the organization of a 
single city ; their political government, always par- 

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taking of its municipal origin, was a type of concen- 
tration in administrative power, and was enabled to 
pursue its objects with undeviating steadiness of 
purpose. The Greeks were a people composed of 
a number of rival states, whose attention was 
incessantly diverted to various objects. The great 
end of existence among the Romans was war ; they 
were the children of Mars, and they reverenced 
their progenitor with the most fervent enthusiasm. 
Agriculture itself was only honoured from necessity. 
Among the Greeks, civil virtues were called into 
action by the multifarious exigencies of society, 
and were honoured and deified by the nation. 
Linked together by an international system of 
independent states, the Greeks regarded war as a 
means of obtaining some definite object, in accor- 
dance with the established balance of power. A 
state of peace was, in their view, the natural state 
of mankind. The Romans regarded war as their 
permanent occupation ; their national and individual 
ambition was exclusively directed to conquest. The 
subjection of their enemies, or a perpetual struggle 
for supremacy, was the only alternative that war 
presented to their minds. 

The success of the Roman arms, and the conquest 
of Greece, were the natural results of concentrated 
national feelings, and superior military organization, 
contending with an ill cemented political league, and 
an inferior military system. The Roman was 
instructed to regard himself merely as a component 
part of the republic, and to view Rome as placed in 
opposition to the rest of mankind. The Greek, 
though he possessed the moral feeling of nationality 

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quite as powerfully as the Roman, could not concen- 
trate equal political energy. The Greeks, after the 
period of the Macedonian conquests, occupied the 
double position of members of a widely spread and 
dominant people, and of citizens of independent 
states. Their minds were enlarged by this extension 
of their sphere of civilization ; but what they gained 
in general feelings of philanthropy, they appear to 
have lost in patriotic attachment to the interest of 
their native states. 

It would be a vain exercise of ingenuity to specu- 
late on the course of events, and on the progress of 
civilization in the ancient world, had the national 
spirit of Greece been awakened in her struggle with 
Rome, and the war between the two peoples involved 
the question of Greek nationality, as well as political 
independence. On the one hand, Greece and Rome 
might be supposed existing as rival states, mutually 
aiding the progress of mankind by their emulation ; 
on the other, the extinction of the Greek people, as 
well as the destruction of their political government, 
might be regarded as a not improbable event. No 
strong national feeling was, however, raised in Greece 
by the wars with Rome, and the contest remained 
only a political one in the eyes of the people ; conse- 
quently, even if the military power of the belligerents 
had been more nearly balanced than it really was, 
the struggle could hardly have terminated in any 
other way than by the subjugation of the Greeks. 

The facility with which the Greeks accommodated 
themselves to the Roman sway, and the rapidity 
with which they sank into political insignificancy, it 
seems at first sight more difficult to explain, than the 

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ease with which they were vanquished in the field. 
The fact, however, is undeniable, that the conquest 
was generally viewed with satisfaction by the great 
body of the inhabitants of Greece, who considered 
the destruction of the numerous small independent 
governments in the country, as a necessary step to- 
wards improving their own condition. The political 
constitutions even of the most democratic states of 
Greece, excluded so large a portion of the inhabitants 
from all share in the public administration, that the 
majority looked with indifference on the loss of their 
independence, when that loss appeared to ensure a 
permanent state of peace. Greece had arrived at 
that period of civilization, when political questions 
were determined by financial reasons, and the hope 
of a diminution of the public burdens was a powerful 
argument in favour of submission to Rome. When 
the Romans conquered Macedonia, they fixed the 
tribute at one half the amount which had been paid 
to the Macedonian kings. 

At the period of the Roman conquest, public 
opinion had been vitiated, as well as weakened, by 
the power and corrupt influence of the Asiatic 
monarchies. Many of the Greek princes employed 
large sums in purchasing the military services and 
civic flatteries of the free states. The political and 
military leaders thoughout Greece, were thus, by 
means of foreign alliances, rendered masters of re- 
sources far beyond what the unassisted revenues of 
the free states could have placed at their disposal. 
It soon became evident, that the fete of many of the 
free states depended on their alliances with the 
kings of Macedonia, Egypt, Syria, and Pergamus ; 

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and the citizens could not avoid the despairing con- 
clusion, that no exertion, on their part, could have 
any decisive influence on the tranquillity of Greece. 
They could only increase their own taxes, and bring 
to their own homes all the miseries of a most inhu- 
man system of warfare. This state of public affairs 
caused the despair which induced the Acarnanians * 
and the citizens of Abydosf to adopt the heroic 
resolution, not to survive the loss of their indepen- 
dence; but its more general effect was, to spread 
public and private demoralization through all ranks 
of society. Peace alone, to the reflecting Greeks, 
seemed capable of restoring security of property, and 
of re-establishing due respect for the principles of 
justice ; and peace seemed only attainable by sub- 
mission to the Romans. The continuation of a state 
of w r ar, which was rapidly consuming the resources of 
the land, was regarded by the independent Greeks 
as a far greater evil than the acknowledgment of the 
Roman supremacy. So ardently was the termination 
of the contest desired by the great body of the 
people, that a common proverb, expressive of a wish 
that the Romons might speedily prevail, was every 
where current. " Unless we are quickly lost, we 
cannot be saved." \ 

It was some time before the Greeks had great 
reason to regret their fortune. A combination of 
causes, which could hardly have entered into the 
calculations of any politician, enabled them to pre- 
serve their national institutions, and to exercise all 
their former social influence, even after the annihila- 

• Livy, xxvi. 25. f Polybius, xvi. 32. i Ibid. xl. 5. 12. 

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tion of their political existence. The vanity of the 
Greeks was flattered by the admitted superiority of 
their nation in arts and literature, and by the respect 
paid to their usages and prejudices by the Romans. 
Their political subjection was, at first, not very 
burdensome; and a considerable portion of the 
nation was allowed to retain the appearance of inde- 
pendence. Athens and Sparta were honoured with 
the title of allies of Rome. The nationality of the 
Greeks was so interwoven with their municipal 
institutions, that the Romans found it impossible to 
abolish the local administration; and an imperfect 
attempt, made at the time of the conquest of Achaea, 
was soon abandoned. The local institutions ulti- 
mately modified the Roman administration itself, 
and long before the Roman empire ceased to exist, 
its political authority in the East was guided by 
the feelings of the Greeks, and its forms moulded 
according to Greek customs. 

The social rank which the Greeks held in the 
eyes of their conquerors at the time of their subjec- 
tion, is not to be overlooked. The bulk of the 
Greek population in Europe consisted of landed 
proprietors, occupying a position which would have 
given some rank in Roman society. No class pre- 
cisely similar existed at Rome, where all that did not 
belong to the senate, the aristocracy, or the adminis- 
tration, were of no account ; for the people always 
remained an inferior grade.* Indeed, the higher 
classes at Rome always felt either contempt or hosti- 
lity towards the populace of the city; and even when 

* The tribune Philip asserted, that there were not 2000 Roman citizens 
proprietors of land. Cicero, De Offic. ii. 21. 

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the emperors were induced to favour the people, 
from a wish to depress the great families of the 
aristocracy, they were unable to efface the general 
feeling of contempt with which the people were 
regarded. To the Greeks, — who had always main- 
tained a higher social position, not only in Europe, 
but also in the kingdoms of the Seleucidae and the 
Ptolemies, — that position was conceded by the 
Roman aristocracy, as it awakened no feelings either 
of hostility or jealousy. 



The Romans generally commenced by treating 
their provinces with mildness. The government of 
Sicily was arranged on a basis which certainly did 
not augment the burdens on the inhabitants. The 
tribute imposed on Macedonia was less than the 
amount of taxation which she had paid to her own 
kings; and there is no reason for supposing, that 
the burdens of the Greeks, whose country was 
embraced in the province of Achsea, were in- 
creased by the conquest. The local municipal 
administration of the separate cities was allowed to 
exist, but in order to enforce submission more 
readily, their constitutions were modified by fixing a 
census, which restricted the franchise in the demo- 
cratic commonwealths.* Many of the smaller states 
were long allowed to retain their own political 
government, and some were ranked as allies of the 

* Pausanias, vii. 16. 6. 

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republic. It is impossible to trace the changes 
which the Romans gradually effected in the financial 
and administrative condition of Greece, with chrono- 
logical precision. Facts, often separated by a long 
series of years, require to be gleaned ; and caution 
must be used in attributing to them their just 
influence on the state of society. The Roman 
senate was evidently not without great jealousy and 
some fear of the Greeks, and great prudence was 
displayed in adopting a number of measures, by 
which they were gradually weakened, and cautiously 
broken to the yoke of their conquerors. This cau- 
tion proves that the despair of the Achaeans had 
produced a considerable effect on the Romans, who 
perceived that the Greek nation, if roused to a 
general combination, possessed the means of offering 
a determined and dangerous resistance. It was not 
until after the time of Augustus, when the conquest 
of every portion of the Greek nation had been com- 
pleted, that the Romans began to view the Greeks 
in the contemptible light in which they are repre- 
sented by the writers of the capital. Crete was not 
reduced into the form of a province until about eight 
years after the subjection of Achaea, and its conquest 
was with difficulty effected, after a war of three 
years, by the presence of a consular army. The 
resistance it offered was so obstinate, that it was 
almost depopulated ere the Romans could complete 
their conquest.* 

No attempt was made to introduce uniformity 
into the general government of the Grecian states ; 

* B. C. 67. Freinshkim, Svpp. Lit. xcix. 47. 

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any such plan, indeed, would have been contrary to 
the principles of the Roman government, which had 
never aspired at establishing unity even in the ad- 
ministration of Italy. The attention of the Romans 
was directed to the means of ruling their various 
conquests in the most efficient manner, of concen- 
trating all the military power in their own hands, 
and of levying tfie greatest amount of tribute which 
circumstances would permit. Thus, numerous cities 
in Greece, possessing but a very small territory, as 
Delphi, Thespiae, Tanagra, Elatsea, and Alese, were 
allowed to retain that degree of independence which 
secured to them the privilege of being governed by 
their own laws and usages, so late even as the times 
of the emperors. Rhodes also long preserved its 
own government as a free state,* though it was 
as completely dependent on Rome, as the * state 
of the Ionian Islands now is on Great Britain. 
The Romans adopted no theoretical principles which 
required them to enforce uniformity in the geo- 
graphical divisions, or in the administrative arrange- 
ments of the provinces of their empire, particularly 
where local habits or laws opposed a barrier to any 
practical union. 

The Roman government, however, soon adopted 
measures tending to diminish the resources of the 
Greek states when received as allies of the republic. 
We are informed by Diodorus, that in consequence of 
the tyranny of the collectors of the tribute in Sicily, 
numbers of free citizens were reduced to slavery, f 

• Tacitus, Ann. xii. 58. The precise privileges of autonomia in the 
Roman empire do not appear to be exactly determined, 
f Dion. Sic. xxxvi. 1. 

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These slaves were sold even within the dominions of 
the king of Bithynia. This conduct of the Romans 
produced an extensive insurrection of the slaves; 
and cotemporary with a seditious rising in Sicily, there 
occurred also a great rebellion of the slaves employed 
in the silver mines of Attica.* The Attic slaves 
seized the fortified town of Sunium, and committed 
extensive ravages before the government of Athens 
was able to overpower them. It is so natural for 
slaves to rebel when a favourable occasion presents 
itself, that it is hazardous to look beyond ordinary 
causes for any explanation of this insurrection, par- 
ticularly as the declining state of the silver mines of 
Laurium, at this period, rendered the slaves less 
valuable, and would cause them to be worse treated, 
and more negligently guarded. Still the simultane- 
ous rebellion of slaves, in these two distant Greek 
countries, seems not unconnected with the measures 
of the Roman government towards its subjects. 

If we could place implicit faith in the testimony 
of so firm and partial an adherent of the Romans 
as Polybius, we must believe, that the Roman ad- 
ministration was at first characterized by a love of 
justice, and that the Roman magistrates were far 
less venal than the Greeks. If the Greeks, he says, 
are intrusted with a single talent of public money, 
though they give written security, and though legal 
witnesses be present, they will never act honestly ; 
but if the largest sums be confided to the Romans 
engaged in the public service, their honourable con- 
duct is secured simply by an oath.f Under such 

• Athen<£us, vi. 104. t Polybius, vi. 56. 13. 

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circumstances, the people must have appreciated 
highly the advantages of the Roman domination, 
and contrasted the last years of their troubled and 
doubtful independence, with the just and peaceful 
government of Rome, in a manner extremely favour- 
able to their new masters. Less than a century of 
irresponsible power effected a wonderful change in 
the conduct of the Roman magistrates. Cicero de- 
clares, that the senate made a traffic of justice to 
the provincials. There is nothing so holy, that it 
cannot be violated, nothing so strong, that it cannot 
be destroyed by money, are his words.* But as the 
government of Rome grew more oppressive, and the 
amount of the taxes levied on the provinces was 
more severely exacted, the increased power of the 
republic rendered any rebellion of the Greeks utterly 
hopeless. The complete separation in the admini- 
stration of the various provinces, governed like so 
many separate kingdoms, viceroyalties, or pashalics, 
the preservation of a distinct local government in 
each of the allied kingdoms and free states, rendered 
the management of each capabla of modification, 
without any compromise of the general system of 
the republic; and this admirable fitness of its 
administration to the exigencies of the times, re- 
mained an attribute of the Roman state for many 
centuries. Each state in Greece, continuing in pos- 
session of as much of its peculiar political constitu- 
tion as was compatible with the supremacy and 
fiscal views of a foreign conqueror, retained all its 
former jealousies towards its neighbours, and its 

* In Verrem. 1. 2. 

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interests were likely to be as often compromised by 
disputes with the surrounding Greek states as with 
the Roman government. Prudence and local inte- 
rests would every where favour submission to Rome ; 
national vanity alone would whisper incitements to 
venture on a struggle for independence. 



When Mithridates had driven the Romans out of 
Asia, he sent a large army into Greece, with the 
hope of being enabled, by the occupation of that 
country, to carry the war into Italy. The Greeks, 
in general, did not take much interest in the con- 
test ; they viewed it as a struggle for supremacy 
between the Romans and the king of Pontus ; and 
public opinion favoured the former, as likely to 
prove the milder and more equitable masters. Many 
of the leading men in Greece, and the governments 
of most of those states which retained their inde- 
pendence, inclined to the cause of Mithridates. 
Some Lacedaemonian and Achaean troops joined his 
army, and Athens engaged heartily in his party. 
As soon, however, as Sylla appeared in Greece with 
his army, every state hastened to submit to Rome, 
with the exception of the Athenians, who appear to 
have had some particular cause of dissatisfaction at 
this time.* The vanity of the Athenians, puffed up 

* Zinkkisen, OeshieJUe GrieckenlancU, 497. n. 1. Athrnaus, v. 48. In 
mentioning Ziokeisen's excellent work, it is impossible not to add a regret, 
that the second volume is not yet published. Zinkeisen was the first who 
conceived the idea of writing a complete history of Greece. 


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by constant allusions to their ancient fame, induced 
them to engage in a direct contest with the whole 
force of Rome. They were commanded by a demo- 
crat called Aristion ; the Roman legions were led by 
Sylla. The exclusive vanity of the Athenians, while 
it cherished in their hearts a more ardent love of 
liberty than had survived in the rest of Greece, blinded 
them to their own insignificancy when compared with 
the belligerents into whose quarrel they rashly thrust 
themselves. But, though they rushed precipitantly 
into the war, they conducted themselves in it with 
great constancy. Sylla was compelled to besiege 
Athens in person ; and the defence of the city was 
conducted with such courage and obstinacy, that the 
task of subduing it proved one of great difficulty 
to a Roman army, even when commanded by that 
celebrated warrior. When the defence grew hope- 
less, the Athenians sent a deputation to Sylla to 
open negotiations ; but when the orator began to 
recount the glories of their ancestors at Marathon, 
as an argument for mercy, the proud Roman cut 
short the discussion with the remark, that his coun- 
try had sent him to Athens to punish rebels, not to 
study history * Athens was at last taken by assault, 
but it was treated by Sylla with unnecessary cruelty ; 
the rapine of the troops was encouraged, instead of 
being checked, by their general. The majority of 
the citizens was slain ; the carnage was so fearfully 
great, as to become memorable even in that age of 

* Plutarch, Sylla, Marathon has proved a Bad stumbling-block to Greek 
rhetoricians, from the time of Plato down to the days of the logiotati. 
*Etr2 win & i M«t«Swv km) i Kw*iyu{$s t «» •£* &* ri &t\v yiiur: L.UCIAN, 
Bhetor. Prcecep. 18. 

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bloodshed ; the private moveable property was seized 
by the soldiery, and Sylla assumed some merit to 
himself for not committing the rifled houses to the 
flames. He declared that he saved the city from 
destruction, and allowed Athens to continue to exist, 
only on account of its ancient glory. He carried off 
some of the columns of the temple of Jupiter 
Olympius to ornament Rome ; but as that temple was 
in an unfinished state, and he inflicted no injury on 
any public building, it seems probable that he only 
removed materials which were ready for transport, 
without any intention of insulting or robbing Athens. 
The fate of the Piraeus, which he utterly destroyed, 
was more severe than that of Athens. From 
Sylla's campaign in Greece, the commencement of 
the ruin and depopulation of the country is to be 
dated. The destruction of property caused by his 
ravages in Attica was so great, that Athens from 
that time lost its commercial, as well as its political 
importance. The race of Athenian citizens was 
almost extirpated, and a new population, composed 
of a heterogeneous mass of settlers, received the 
right of citizenship.* Still the vitality of Greek 
institutions inspired the altered body; the ancient 
forms and laws continued to exist in their former 
purity, and the Areopagus is mentioned by Tacitus, 
in the reign of Tiberius, as nobly disregarding the 
powerful protection of Piso, who strove to influence 
its decisions, and corrupt the administration of 

Athens was not the only city in Greece which 

* Tacitus, Ann. ii. 55. 

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suffered severely from the cruelty aud rapacity of 
Sylla. After he had defeated Archelaus, the 
general of Mithridates, at Cheronea, he deprived 
Thebes of half its territory, which he consecrated to 
Apollo and Jupiter. The administration of the 
temporal affairs of the pagan deities, was not so 
wisely conducted as the civil business of the 
municipalities. The Theban territory declined in 
wealth and population, and in the time of Pausanias 
the Cadmea or citadel was the only inhabited portion 
of ancient Thebes. Both parties, during the Mithri- 
datic war, inflicted severe injuries on Greece, plun- 
dered the country, and destroyed property most 
wantonly, while many of the losses were never 
repaired. The foundations of national prosperity 
were undermined; and it henceforward became 
impossible to save, from the annual consumption of 
the inhabitants, the sums necessary to replace the 
accumulated capital of ages, which this short war 
had annihilated. In some cases the wealth of the 
communities became insufficient to keep the existing 
public works in repair. 



The Greeks, far from continuing to enjoy tran- 
quillity under the powerful protection of Rome, soon 
found themselves exposed to the attacks of every 
enemy, against whom the policy of their masters 
did not require the employment of a regular army. 
The caution of the senate did not allow the provinces 

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to maintain any armed force ; and the guards whom 
the free cities were permitted to keep, were barely 
sufficient to protect the walls of their citadels. 
Bands of robbers, and fleets of pirates, remains of 
the mercenary forces of the Asiatic monarchs, and 
disbanded in consequence of the Roman victories, 
began to infest the coasts of Greece. As long as 
the provinces continued able to pay their taxes with 
regularity, and the trade of Rome did not suffer 
directly, little attention was paid to the sufferings of 
the Greeks. 

The geographical configuration of European 
Greece, intersected, in every direction, by high and 
rugged mountains, and separated, by deep gulfs and 
bays, into a number of promontories and peninsulas, 
renders communication between the thickly peopled 
and fertile districts, more difficult than in most 
other regions. The country opposes barriers to 
internal trade, and presents difficulties to the forma- 
tion of plans of mutual defence between the different 
districts, which it requires care and judgment, on 
the part of the general government, to remove. 
The armed force that can instantly be collected at 
one point, must often be small; and this circumstance 
has marked out Greece as a suitable field where 
piratical bands may plunder, as they have it in their 
power to remove their forces to distant spots with 
great celerity. From the earliest ages of history to 
the present day, these circumstances, combined with 
the extensive trade which has always been carried 
on in the eastern part of the Mediterranean, have 
rendered the Grecian seas the scene of constant 
piracies. At many periods, the pirates have been 

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able to assemble forces, sufficient to give their 
expeditions tlie character of regular war ; and their 
pursuits have been so lucrative, and their success so 
great, that their profession has ceased to be viewed 
as a dishonourable occupation.* 

A system of piracy, which was carried on by 
considerable armies and large fleets, began to be 
formed soon after the conclusion of the Mithridatic 
war. The indefinite nature of the Roman power in 
the East, the weakness of the Asiatic monarchs, 
and of the sovereigns of Egypt, the questionable 
nature of the protection which Rome accorded to 
her allies, and the general disarming of the Euro- 
pean Greeks, all encouraged and facilitated the 
enterprises of these pirates. A political, as well as a 
military organization, was given to their forces, by 
the seizure of several strong positions on the coast 
of Cilicia. From these stations they directed 
their expeditions over the greater part of the 
Mediterranean.! The immense wealth, which ages 
of prosperity had accumulated in the small towns 
and numerous temples of Greece, was no^ defence- 
less; the country was exposed to daily incursions, 
and a long list of the devastations of the Cilician 
pirates is recorded in history. Many even of the 
largest and wealthiest cities in Europe and Asia 
were successfully attacked and plundered, and the 
greater number of the celebrated temples of anti- 

* Piracy flourished before the time of Homer, and it had some flattering 
reminiscences in the days of Tournefort. It is said that the piracies com- 
mitted during the late revolutionary war, contributed quite as much as the 
humanity of the allies, to the signature of the treaty of the 6th of July, 1827, 
and to the foundation of a German monarchy in Greece. 

t Appian, De Bello, M. 92. 3. Plutarch, Pompey, 24. 

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quity were robbed of their immense treasures. 
Samo8, Clazomene, and Samothrace, the great 
temples at Hermione, Epidaurus, Tsenarus, Calauria, 
Actium, Argos, and the Isthmus of Corinth, were all 
pillaged. To such an extent was this system of 
robbery carried, and so powerful and well-disciplined 
were the forces of the pirates, that it was at last 
necessary for Rome either to share the world with 
them, or to devote all her military energies to their 
destruction. In order to carry on war with this 
band, — the last remains of the mercenaries who had 
upheld the Macedonian empire in the East, — Pompey 
was invested with extraordinary powers as com- 
mander-in-chief over the whole Mediterranean. An 
immense force was placed at his absolute disposal, 
and he was charged with a degree of authority over 
the officers of the republic, and the allies of the 
state, which had never before been intrusted to one 
individual. His success in the execution of this 
commission, was considered one of his most brilliant 
military achievements; he captured ninety ships 
with brazen beaks, and took twenty thousand 
prisoners. Some of these prisoners were established 
in towns on the coast of Cilicia; and Soli, which 
he rebuilt, and peopled with these warriors, 
was honoured with the name of Pompeiopolis. 
The Romans, consequently, do not seem to have 
regarded these pirates as having engaged in a 
disgraceful warfare. 

Crete had been filled with the strongholds of the 
pirates as well as Cilicia, and there is no doubt, that 
the greater number consisted of Greeks. Despair 
is said to have driven many of the citizens of the 

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states conquered by the Romans to suicide ; it must 
certainly have forced a far greater number to 
embrace a life of piracy and robbery. The govern- 
ment of Rome was at this time subject to continual 
revolutions ; and in the disorders produced by the 
civil wars, the Romans lost all respect for the rights 
of property, either at home or abroad. Wealth and 
power were the only objects of pursuit, and the 
force of all moral ties was broken. Justice ceased 
to be administered, and men, in such cases, always 
assume the right of revenging their own wrongs. 
Those who considered themselves aggrieved by any 
act of oppression, or fancied they had received some 
severe injury, sought revenge in the way which 
presented itself most readily ; and when the oppressor 
was secure against their attacks, they made society 
responsible. The state of public affairs, even in the 
districts of Greece, which had suffered from the 
ravages of the pirates, was considered an apology for 
their conduct. They probably spent liberally among 
the poor the treasures which they wrested from the 
rich ; and so little, indeed, were they placed beyond 
the pale of society, that Pompey himself settled a 
colony of them at Dyme, in Achaea, where they seem 
to have prospered. Though piracy was not sub- 
sequently carried on so extensively as to merit a 
place in history, it was not entirely extirpated even 
by the fleet which the Roman emperors maintained 
in the East ; and that cases still continued to occur 
in the Grecian seas is proved by public inscriptions* 

* Boeckh. Corpus Inscrip. Grcecarum. Noa. 2335 and 2347, and an 
inscription in the possession of Mr Gavrios of Amorgoe. Act. Societ. Gr. 
Lips. Fate. III. 

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The Romans reduced those countries, where they 
met with resistance, into the form of provinces, a pro- 
cedure which was generally equivalent to abrogating 
the existing laws, and imposing on the vanquished a 
new system of civil, as well as political administration. 
In the countries inhabited by the Greeks, this policy 
underwent considerable modification. The Greeks, 
indeed, were so much farther advanced in civiliza- 
tion than the Romans, that it was no easy task for a 
Roman pro-consul to draw up the edict declaring the 
principles on which his decisions were to be based, 
and the forms of proceeding which he intended to 
adopt in his government, without borrowing largely 
from the existing laws of the province. The con- 
stitution of Sicily, which was the first Greek 
province of the Roman dominions, presents a 
number of anomalies in the administration of its 
different districts. That portion of the island which 
had composed the kingdom of Hiero, was allowed to 
retain its own laws, and paid the Romans the same 
amount of taxation which had been formerly levied 
by its own monarchs. The other portions of the 
island were subjected to various regulations con- 
cerning the amount of their taxes, and the admi- 
nistration of justice. The province contained three 
allied cities, five colonies, five free, and seventeen 
tributary cities.* Macedonia, Epirus, and Achaea, 

* Plihy, HUt. Nat, iii. 14. Economic Politique de$ Eomaim, par 
Dubkau db la Mallb. ii. 353. 

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when conquered, were treated very much in the 
same way, if we make due allowance for the 
increasing severity of the fiscal government of the 
Roman magistrates. Crete, Cyprus, and Asia 
Minor, were subsequently reduced to provinces, and 
were allowed to retain much of their laws and 
usages. Scarvola, in his edict, permitted the Greeks 
of his province to decide their legal differences 
according to their own laws, and Cicero adopted the 
same provision.* Thrace, even so late as the time of 
Tiberius, was governed by its own sovereign, as an 
ally of the Romans, f Many cities within the 
bounds of the provinces retained their own peculiar 
laws, and as far as their own citizens were con- 
cerned, they continued to possess the legislative, 
as well as the executive power, by administering 
their own affairs, and executing justice within their 
limits, without being liable to the control of the 

As long as the republic continued to exist, the 
provinces were administered by proconsuls or praetors, 
chosen from among the members of the senate, and 
responsible to that body for their administration. The 
power of these provincial governors was immense ; 
the supreme control over the judicial, financial, and 
administrative business, was vested in their hands. 
They had the right of naming and removing most of 
the judges aud magistrates under their orders, and 
most of the fiscal arrangements regarding the pro- 
vincials, depended on their will. No power ever 
existed more liable to be abused; for while the 

• Cicero, Ep. ad AU. vi. 1. f Livt, xlv. 34. 

X Puny the Younger, Ep, x. 56. 88. 

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representatives of the most absolute sovereigns have 
seldom been intrusted with more extensive authority, 
they have never incurred so little danger of being 
punished for its abuse. The only tribunal before 
which the proconsuls could be cited for any acts of 
injustice which they might commit, was that very 
senate which had sent them out as its deputies, and 
received them back into its body as members. 

When the imperial government was consolidated 
by Augustus, the command of the whole military 
force of the republic devolved on the emperor ; but 
his constitutional position was not that of sovereign. 
The early emperors concentred in their persons the 
offices of commander-in-chief of the military and 
naval forces of Rome, of minister of war and of 
finance, and of Pontifex Maximus, which gave them 
a sacred character, as head of the religion of the state ; 
but the senate and people were still possessed of the 
supreme legislative authority, and the senate con- 
tinued to direct the civil branches of the executive 
administration. In consequence of this relation 
between the jurisdiction of the senate and the 
emperors, the provinces were divided into two classes : 
Those in which the military forces were stationed, 
were placed under the direct orders of the emperor, 
and were governed by his lieutenants or praetors: 
the other provinces, which did not require to be 
constantly occupied by the legions, remained depen- 
dent on the senate, as the chief civil authority in the 
state ; they were called provinces of the people, and 
were usually governed by proconsuls. Most of the 
countries inhabited by the Greeks, were in that 
peaceable condition, which placed them in the rank 

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of proconsular provinces. Sicily, Macedonia, Epirus, 
Achsea, Crete, Bithynia, and Asia Minor, were thus 
put under the control of the senate. Cyprus, 
from its situation, as affording a convenient post 
for a military force to watch Cilicia, Syria, and 
Egypt, was at first classed among the imperial pro- 
vinces ; but Augustus subsequently exchanged it for 
the more important position of Dalmatia, where an 
army could be stationed to watch Rome, and sepa- 
rate Italy and the proconsular provinces of Greece. 

The proconsuls occupied a higher rank in the 
state than the imperial praetors ; the splendour of 
their courts, and the numerous train by which they 
were attended, were maintained at the expense of 
their provinces. Their situation deprived them of 
all hope of military distinction, the highest object of 
Roman ambition. This exclusion of the aristocracy 
from military pursuits, by the emperors, is not to be 
lost sight of in observing the change which took place 
in the Roman character. Avarice was the vice which 
succeeded to stifle their feelings of self-abasement 
and disappointed ambition ; and as the proconsuls 
were not objects of jealousy to the emperors, they were 
enabled to gratify their ruling passion without danger. 
As they were created from among the senate in suc- 
cession, they felt assured of finding favourable judges 
under any circumstances. Irresponsible government 
soon degenerates into tyranny ; the administration of 
the Roman proconsuls soon became as oppressive as 
that of the worst despots, and was loudly complained 
of by the provincials. The provinces under the 
government of the emperor were better adminis- 
tered. The imperial lieutenants were inferior in 

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rank to proconsuls, but they possessed a more 
extensive command, as they united in their persons 
the chief civil and military authority. The effect of 
their possessing more power was, that the limits of 
their authority, and the forms of their proceedings, 
were determined with greater precision — were 
watched and controlled by the military discipline 
to which they were subjected, by the constant 
dependence of all their actions on the immediate 
orders of the emperor, and the various departments 
of which he was the head. 

The expenses of the proconsular administration 
were paid by the provinces; and it was chiefly by 
abuses augmenting their amount, that the proconsuls 
were enabled to accumulate enormous fortunes 
during their short tenure of government. The 
burden was so heavily felt by Macedonia and 
Achaea, even as early as the reign of Tiberius, that 
the complaints of these two provinces induced that 
emperor to obtain their union with the imperial 
province of Moesia.* Thrace, when it was reduced 
to a Roman province by Vespasian, was also added 
to the imperial list. As the power of the emperors 
rose into absolute authority over'the Roman world, 
and the pageant of the republic faded away, all 
distinction between the different classes of pro- 
vinces disappeared. They were distributed accor- 
ding to the wish of the reigning emperor, and 
their administration arbitrarily transferred to officers 
of whatever rank he thought fit to select. The 
Romans, indeed, had never affected much system 

* Tacitus, Ann. i. 76. 

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in this, any more than in any other branch of their 
government. Pontius Pilate, when he condemned 
our Saviour, governed Judaea with the rank of 
procurator of Caesar ; he was vested with the whole 
administrative, judicial, fiscal, and military authority, 
as completely as it could have been exercised by 
a proconsul or praetor, yet his title was only that of 
a finance officer, charged with the administration of 
those revenues which belonged to the imperial 

The provincial governors usually named three or 
four deputies to carry on the business of the districts 
into which the province was divided, and each of 
these deputies was controlled and assisted by a local 
council. It may be remarked, that the condition of 
the inhabitants of the western portion of the Roman 
empire was different from that of the eastern ; the 
people were generally treated as little better than 
serfs; they were not considered the absolute pro- 
prietors of the lands they cultivated. Adrian first 
gave them a full right of property in their lands, 
and secured to them a regular system of law by the 
publication of his perpetual edict. In Greece, the 
provincial administration was necessarily modified 
by the circumstance of the conquered being much 
farther advanced in social civilization than their 
conquerors.* To facilitate the task of governing 
and taxing the Greeks, the Romans found them- 

* The high state of social civilization among the Greeks is proved by the 
existence of societies formed for the purpose of mutual assistance. Plinii, 
Epist. x. 93, 94. These friendly societies held property ; and an inscription 
in the collection of the author, published in the Transaction* of the Royal 
Society of Literature, vol. iii. pt. 2, may relate to such an Eranos. 

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selves compelled to retain much of the civil govern- 
ment, and many of the financial arrangements, 
which they found existing; and hence arose the 
marked difference which is observed in the adminis- 
tration of the eastern and western portions of the 
empire. The existence of the free cities, of the 
local tribunals and provincial assemblies, and the 
respect paid to the laws, gave the Greek language 
an official character, and enabled the Greeks to 
acquire so great an influence in the administration 
of their country, as either to limit the extent of the 
despotic power of their Roman masters, or, when 
that proved impossible, to share its profits. But 
though the arbitrary decisions of the proconsuls 
received some check from the existence of fixed 
rules and permanent usages, still these barriers were 
insufficient to prevent the abuse of irresponsible 
authority. Those laws and customs which a proconsul 
dared not openly violate, he could generally nullify 
by some concealed measure of oppression. The fact, 
that throughout the Grecian provinces, as well as in 
the rest of the empire, the governors superintended 
the financial administration, and exercised the 
judicial power, is sufficient to explain the ruin and 
poverty which the Roman government produced. 
Before the wealth of the people had been utterly 
consumed, an equitable proconsul had it in his 
power to confer happiness on his provinces, and 
Cicero draws a very favourable picture of his own 
administration in Cilicia;* but a few governors like 

* MultoB (rotates omni aere alieno liberate, multee ralde levatco sunt. 
Omnes suis legibus, et judiciis us®, «vr#>«/*<«» adeptse, revixerunt. — Ep. ad 
AU. vi. 2. 

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Verres soon reduced a province to a state of poverty 
from which, it would have acquired ages of good 
government to enable it to recover. 


The legal amount of the taxes, direct and indirect, 
levied by the Romans on the Greeks, was probably 
not greater than the sum paid to their national 
governments in the days of their independence. But 
a small amount of taxation arbitrarily imposed, un- 
justly collected, and injudiciously spent, weighs more 
heavily on the resources of the people, than immense 
burdens properly distributed and wisely employed. 
The wealth and resources of Greece had been 
greatest at the time when each city formed a separate 
state, and the inhabitants of each valley possessed 
the power of employing the taxes, which they paid, 
for objects which ameliorated their own condition. 
The moment the centralization of political power 
enabled one city to appropriate the revenues of 
another to its wants, or for its embellishment, the 
decline of the country commenced: but all the 
evil effects of centralization were not felt until the 
taxes were paid to foreigners. When the tributes 
were remitted to Rome, it was difficult to persuade 
absent administrators of the necessity of expending 
money on a road, a port, or an aqueduct, which had 
no direct connection with Roman interests. Had 
the Roman government acted according to the 
strictest principles of justice, Greece must have 
suffered from its dominion; but its avarice and 

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corruption, after the commencement of the civil 
wars, knew no bounds. The extraordinary payments 
levied on the provinces soon equalled, and sometimes 
exceeded, the regular and legal taxes. Cicero sup* 
plies ample proof of the extortions committed by 
the proconsuls, and no arrangements were adopted 
to restrain their avarice until the time of Augustus. 
It is, therefore only under the empire that any 
accurate picture of the fiscal administration of the 
Romans in Greece can be attempted. 

Until the time of Augustus, the Romans had 
maintained their armies, by seizing and squandering 
the accumulated capital, hoarded by all the nations 
of the world. When that source of riches was 
exhausted, Augustus found himself compelled to 
seek for regular funds for maintaining the army: 
" And it came to pass in those days, that there went 
out a decree from Caesar Augustus that all the world 
should be taxed.** A regular survey of the whole 
empire was made, and the land-tax was assessed 
according to a valuation taken of the annual income 
of every species of property. A capitation-tax was 
also imposed on all the provincials whom the land- 
tax did not affect.f 

The ordinary provincial taxes in the East were 
this land-tax, which generally amounted to a tenth 
of the produce, though, in some cases, it constituted 
a fifth, and in others, fell to a twentieth. It was, 
however, valued for a term of years, and paid 

• St Luke, ii. 1. 

+ Saviont ueber die Roemiteke Steuerverfcutung unter den Kauern. 
Abhand. Acad. v. Berlin, 1822. Economic Politique de$ Romain$ y par 
Dureau de la Malle, who has most ably explained a remarkable passage 
of Htciwits. Vol. i. 177 ; ii. 418, 434. 


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annually in money. This may be received as the 
general rule, though it was liable to exceptions* 
The subjects of the empire paid also a tax on cattle, 
and a variety of duties on importation and exporta- 
tion, which were levied even on the conveyance of 
goods from one province to another. In Greece, the 
free cities also retained the right of levying local 
duties on their citizens. Contributions of provisions 
and manufactures were likewise exacted, for feeding 
and clothing the troops stationed in the provinces. 
Even under Augustus, who devoted his personal 
attention to reforming the financial administration 
of the empire, the proconsuls and provincial gover- 
nors ventured to avail themselves of their position, 
as a means of gratifying their avarice. Licinius 
accumulated immense riches in Gaul. Tiberius 
perceived that the weight of the Roman fiscal system 
was pressing too severely on the provinces, and he 
rebuked the prefect of Egypt, for remitting too 
large a sum to Rome, as the amount proved he had 
overtaxed his province. The mere fact of a prefect's 
possessing the power of increasing or diminishing 
the amount of his remittances to the treasury, is 
enough to condemn the arbitrary nature of the 
Roman fiscal administration. The prefect was told 
by the emperor that a good shepherd should shear, 
not flay, his sheep. But no rulers ever estimated 
correctly the amount of taxes that their subjects 
could advantageously pay ; and Tiberius received a 
lesson on the financial system of his empire from 
Battas, King of Dalmatia, who, on being asked the 

* Savignt fixes the general adoption of a money payment for the land-tax 
in the time of Marcus Aurelins. 

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cause of a rebellion, replied, that it arose from the 
emperor's sending wolves to guard his flocks instead 
of shepherds.* 

The Roman government systematically attempted 
to transfer the whole of the ready money of its 
subjects into the coffers of the state. The city of 
Rome formed a drain for the wealth of all the pro- 
vinces, and the whole empire was impoverished for 
its support. When Caligula expressed the wish that 
the Roman people had only one neck, in order that 
he might destroy them all at a single blow, he knew 
that the idea found a responsive echo m in many a 
breast. There was a wise moral in the sentiment 
uttered in his frenzy ; and many felt that the 
dispersion of those of the population of Rome 
who were nourished in idleness by the public 
revenues, would have been a great benefit to the 
rest of the empire.f The desire of seizing wealth 
wherever it could be found, was the dominant feel- 
ing in the personal policy of the emperors, as well 
as the proconsuls. The provincial governors enriched 
themselves by plundering their subjects, and^the em- 
perors filled their treasuries, by accusing the senators 
of those crimes which entailed confiscation of their 
fortunes. When Alexander the Great conquered 
Asia, the treasures which he dispersed increased the 
commerce of the world, created new cities, and 
augmented the general wealth of mankind. The 
Romans collected far greater riches from their con- 

* Suetonius, Tiber. 32. 

f Suet. Calig. 30. Caligula was evidently thinking of the sums which would 
remain for his own extravagance, if he could have eluded furnishing the 
grain for the public distributions, and the money for maintaining a fixed 
price in the markets. 

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quests than Alexander had done, as they pushed 
their exactions much farther ; but the rude state of 
society, in which they lived at the time of their first 
great successes, prevented their perceiving, that by 
carrying off or destroying all the moveable capital in 
their conquests, they must ultimately diminish the 
amount of their own revenues. The wealth brought 
away from the countries inhabited by the Greeks 
was incredible; for the Romans pillaged the con- 
quered, as the Spaniards plundered Mexico and Peru, 
and treated them as the Turks subsequently governed 
Greece. The riches which centuries of industry had 
accumulated in Syracuse, Tarentum, Etolia, Mace- 
donia, and Corinth, and the immense sums seized in 
the treasuries of the kings of Cyprus, Pergamus, 
Syria, and Egypt, were removed to Rome, and con- 
sumed in a way which virtually converted them into 
premiums for neglecting agriculture. They were 
dispersed in paying an immense army, in feeding an 
idle populace, which was thus withdrawn from all 
productive occupations, and in maintaining the house- 
hold of the emperor, the senators, and the imperial 
freedmen. The consequence of the arrangements 
adopted for provisioning Rome was felt over the 
whole empire, and seriously affected the prosperity 
of the most distant provinces. It is necessary to 
notice them, in order to understand perfectly the 
financial system of the empire. 

The citizens of Rome were fed by the republic, if 
it could not furnish them with profitable employ- 
ment. An immense quantity of grain was distributed 
in this way, which was received as tribute from the 
provinces. Caesar found three hundred and twenty 

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thousand persons receiving this gratuity. It is true 
he reduced the number to one half. The greater 
part of this grain was drawn from Sicily, Africa, and 
Egypt. This distribution enabled the poor to live 
in idleness, and was of itself extremely injurious to 
industry ; but another arrangement was adopted by 
the Roman government, which rendered the cultiva- 
tion of land around Rome unprofitable to its pro- 
prietors. A large sum was annually employed by 
the state in purchasing grain in the provinces, where 
it was cheapest, and in transporting this supply to 
Rome, where it was sold to the bakers at a fixed 
price. An allowance was also made to the private 
importers of grain, in order to ensure an abundant 
supply. In this manner, a very large sum was 
expended to keep bread cheap in a city, where a 
variety of circumstances tended to make it dear. 
This singular system of annihilating capital, and 
ruining agriculture and industry, was so deeply 
rooted in the Roman administration, that similar 
gratuitous distributions of grain were established at 
Antioch and Alexandria, and introduced into Con- 
stantinople, when that city became the capital of 
the empire.* 

It is not surprising that Greece suffered severely 
under a government, equally tyrannical in its con- 
duct, and unjust in its legislation. In almost every 
department of public business the interests of the 
state were placed in opposition to those of the 

* It is curious to find Tacitus praising the establishment of bounties on the 
importation of foreign grain by Tiberius, without a single word on the evil 
effects of the system. — Hist. iv. 40. He must have traced their consequences, 
— Ann, vi. 13. 

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people ; even when the letter of the law was mild, 
its administration was burdensome. The customs 
of Rome were moderate, and consisted of a duty of 
five per cent on exports and imports. Where the 
customs were so reasonable, commerce ought to 
have flourished ; but the real amount levied under 
an unjust government bears no relation to the 
nominal payment. The government of Turkey has 
ruined the commerce of its subjects, with duties 
equally moderate. The Romans despised commerce ; 
they considered merchants as little better than 
cheats, and concluded that they were always in 
the wrong, when they sought to avoid making any 
payment to government. The provinces in the 
eastern part of the Mediterranean are inhabited by 
a mercantile population. The wants of many parts 
can only be supplied by sea; and as the various 
provinces and small independent states were often 
separated by double lines of custom-houses, the 
subsistence of the population often depended on 
the revenue officers. * The customs payable to 
Rome were let to farmers, who possessed extensive 
powers for their collection, and a special tribunal 
for the enforcement of their claims; they were 
consequently powerful tyrants in all the countries 
round the Egean Sea. 

The ordinary duty on the transport of goods, from 
one province to another, amounted to two and a half 
per cent ; but some kinds of merchandise were sub- 
jected to a tax of an eighth, which appears to have 

♦ Cic. ad JtL ii. 16. 

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been levied when the article first entered the Roman 

The provincial contributions pressed as heavily on 
the Greeks as the general taxes. The expense of 
the household of the proconsuls was very great ; they 
had also the right of placing the troops in winter 
quarters, in whatever towns they thought fit. This 
power was rendered a profitable means of extorting 
money from the wealthy districts. Cicero mentions, 
that the island of Cyprus paid two hundred talents, — 
. about forty-five thousand pounds annually, — in order 
to purchase exemption from this burden.f The 
power of the fiscal agents, charged to collect the 
extraordinary contributions in the provinces, was 
unlimited. One of the ordinary punishments for 
infringing the revenue laws, was confiscation, — a 
punishment which was converted by the collectors of 
the revenue into a systematic means of extortion. 
A regular trade in usury was established, in order to 
force prorietors to sell their property ; and accusations 
were brought forward in the fiscal courts, merely to 
levy fines, or compel the accused to incur debts. 
The establishment of posts, which Augustus instituted 
for the transmission of military orders, was soon 
converted into a burden to the provinces, instead of 
being gradually rendered a public benefit, by allowing 
private individuals to make use of its services. The 
enlisting of recruits was another source of abuse.f 
Privileges and monopolies were granted to merchants 

• Naddet, Des changemens op&rh dans toutes Us parties rf# V adminis- 
tration de V empire Remain sous les regnes de Diodetien, de Constantin, et 
de leurs successenrs, jusqu' a Julicn. 2 vols. 

t Ep. ad Attic, v. 21. t Tac. Ann. xiv. 18. 

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and manufacturers ; the industry of a province 
was ruined, to raise a sum of money for an emperor 
or a favourite,* and we find Trajan himself encou- 
raging fraud by a monopoly.! 

The free cities, and allied states, were treated with 
as much injustice as the provinces, though their 
position enabled them to escape many of the public 
burdens.:): The crowns of gold, which had once been 
given by cities and provinces as a testimony of 
gratitude, were converted into a forced gift, and at 
last extorted as a tax of a fixed amount. § 

In addition to the direct weight of all the public 
burdens, the severity was increased by the exemption 
which the Roman citizens enjoyed from the land- 
tax, the customs, the municipal burdens in the pro- 
vinces, the free cities, and the allied states. This 
exemption filled Greece with traders and usurers, 
who obtained the right of citizenship as a specula- 
tion, merely to evade the payment of the local taxes. 
The Roman magistrates had the power of granting 
this immunity ; and as they were in the habit of 
participating in the profits even of their enfranchised 
slaves, there can be no doubt that a regular trafic in 
citizenship was established, and this cause exercised 
considerable influence, in accelerating the ruin 
of the allied states and free cities, by defrauding 
them of their local privileges and revenues. When 
Nero wished to render himself popular in Greece, 
he extended the immunity from the general taxes 

• Lakpridius, ill AUx. p. 122. f Philostratus, Pit. Soph. 1. xxv. 3. 
t Diodorus, xxxvi. 1. Juvenal, viii. 107. Tac. Ann, xv. 45. 
§ Cic. •» Pi*. 37. Monum. Ancyr. where the aurnm coronarium » 
indicated as a tax. 

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to all the Greeks ; but Vespasian found the financial 
affairs of the empire in such disorder, that he was 
compelled to revoke all grants of exemption to the 
provinces. Virtue, in the old times of Rome, meant 
valour; liberty, in the time of Nero, signified freedom 
from taxation. Of this liberty, Vespasian deprived 
Greece, Byzantium, Samos, Rhodes, and Lycia.* 

The financial administration of the Romans, in- 
flicted a severer blow on the moral constitution of 
society, than it did on the material prosperity of the 
country. It divided the population of Greece into 
two classes, one possessing the title of Roman 
citizens, — a title often purchased by their wealth, and 
which implied freedom from taxation; — the other 
consisting of the Greeks, who, from poverty, were 
unable to purchase the envied privilege ; and thus, 
by their very poverty, were compelled to bear the 
whole weight of the public burdens laid on the 
province. The rich and poor were thus ranged in 
two separate castes of society. 

By the Roman constitution, the knights were 
intrusted with the management of the finances of 
the state. They were a body, in whose eyes wealth, 
on which their rank substantially depended, possessed 
an undue value. The prominent feature of their 
character was avarice, notwithstanding the praises of 
their justice which Cicero has left us. The knights 
not only acted as collectors of the revenues, but 
they also frequently farmed the taxes of a province 
for a term of years, sub-letting portions. They 
formed companies for farming the customs, and for 

* Pausanias, Aohaica, xvii. 2. Suetonius, Vcsp. 8. Philostratus, 
Apoll, Tyan. v. 14. 

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employing capital in public or private loans. They 
were favoured by the policy of Rome ; while their 
own riches, and their secondary position in political 
affairs, served to screen them from attacks in the 
forum. For a long period, too, their body possessed 
the judicial power in the state, and consequently, 
the knights were judges in their own commercial 
cases, even if they could not decide on their indi- 
vidual gains. 

The heads of the financial administration in 
Greece were thus placed in a moral position 
unfavourable to an equitable collection of the 
revenues. The case of Brutus, who attempted to oblige 
the Salaminians of Cyprus to pay him compound 
interest, at the rate of four per cent a month, shews 
that avarice and extortion were not dishonourable 
in the eyes of the Roman aristocracy. * The history 
of selling the right of citizenship, of raising unjust 
fiscal prosecutions to extort fines, and enforce con- 
fiscation to increase landed estates, has only been 
preserved in its fruits. The existence of all these 
crimes is well known ; their effects may be observed 
in the fact, that a single citizen, in the time of 
Augustus, had already rendered himself proprietor 
of the whole island of Cythera, and was able to 
raise a rebellion in Laconia by the severity of his 
extortions. His name was Julius Eurycles, and 
the circumstances are mentioned by Strabo. 

The Roman citizens in Greece escaped the 
oppressive powers of the fiscal agents, not only in 
those cases wherein they were by law exempt from 

• Cic. ad Att. v. 22 ; vi. 1. 

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the payment of the provincial taxes, but also because 
they possessed the means of defending themselves 
against injustice, by the right of carrying their causes 
to Rome for judgment by appeal. These privileges 
soon rendered the number of Roman citizens, 
engaged in mercantile speculation and trade, very 
great in Greece. A considerable multitude of 
the inhabitants of Rome had, from the earliest 
times, been employed in trade and commerce, but 
this class never obtained the right of citizenship at 
home. They did not fail to settle in numbers in all 
the Roman conquests; and, in the provinces, they 
were correctly called Romans, and enjoyed from 
the republic the fullest protection. Even the 
Roman citizens were so many at a later period, 
that they could furnish not a few recruits to the 
legions.* So numerous were they in Asia 
Minor, that Mithridates put to death eighty 
thousand when he commenced his war with the 
Romans, and the greater part was undoubtedly 
composed of merchants, traders, and money dealers. 
The Greeks at last obtained the right of Roman 
citizenship in such multitudes, that Nero may have 
made no very enormous sacrifice of public revenue 
when he conferred liberty, or freedom from tribute, 
on all the Greeks. 

It is unnecessary to dwell, at any length, on the 
effects of the extensive system of general oppression, 
and partial privileges, which has been described. 
Honest industry was useless in trade, and political 
intrigue was the easiest mode of making a large 

* Cicero, ad AU. v. 18. Fam. xv. 1. 

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fortune, even in commerce. A rapid decline in the 
wealth of Greece, and a great diminution in the 
numbers of the population, took place. So early 
as the time of Augustus, many of the richest cities 
of Greece were in a ruinous condition, some of 
the most fertile regions depopulated, and the inex- 
haustible supply of wealth, which the Romans 
supposed they would find in the provinces, began 
to fail.* 



Experience proves, that the same law of the 
progress of society, which gives to an increasing 
population a tendency to outgrow the means of 
subsistence, gives also, to a declining one, a power of 
pressing on the limits of taxation. A government may 
push taxation up to that point, when it commences 
to arrest all increase in the means of subsistence ; 
but the moment this stationary condition of society 
is produced, the people will begin to consume a 
portion of the wealth previously absorbed by the 
public taxes, and the revenues of the country will 
have a tendency to decrease ; or, what is the same 
thing, in so far as the political law is concerned, the 
government will find greater difficulty in collecting 
the same amount of revenue. 

The depopulation of the Roman provinces was, 
however, not caused entirely by the financial 

• Sallust says, Omnibus modis pecuniam trahunt, vexant ; tamen summa 
libidine divitiaa suas vincere nequeunt. 

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oppression of the government. In order to secure 
a new conquest against rebellion, the armed popula- 
tion was generally exterminated, or reduced to 
slavery. If the people displayed a spirit of inde- 
pendence, they were regarded as robbers, and 
destroyed without mercy; and this cruelty was so 
engrafted into the system of the Roman admini- 
stration, that Augustus treated the Salassi in this 
manner, when their disorders could easily have 
been effectually prevented by milder measures.* 
At the time the Romans first engaged in war with 
the Macedonians and Greeks, the contest was of 
that doubtful nature, that the Romans were not 
likely to relax the usual policy which they adopted 
for weakening their foes. Macedonia, Epirus, 
Etolia, and Achaea, were, therefore, treated with the 
greatest severity at the time of their conquest. 
iEmilius Paulus, in order to secure the submission 
of Epirus, destroyed seventy cities, and sold one 
hundred and fifty thousand of the inhabitants as 
slaves. The policy which considered a reduction 
of the population necessary for securing obedience, 
would not fail to adopt efficient measures to prevent 
its again becoming either numerous or wealthy. 
The utter destruction of Carthage is a fact which 
has no parallel in history. Mummius razed Corinth 
to the ground, and sold its whole population as 
slaves. Delos was the great emporium of the 
trade of the East about the time of the conquest 
of Greece; it was plundered by the troops of 

• Strabo, iv. Suetonius, Aug. 21. The inhabitants of the valley of 
Aoete, of whom 36,000 were sold as slaves. 
+ Livt, xlv. 34. Diodorus, xxxi. Plutarch, JSmUiut Paulus. 

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Mithridates, and never recovered its former state 
of prosperity under the Romans. Sylla utterly 
destroyed several cities of Boeotia, and depopulated 
Athens, the Piraeus, and Thebes.* The inhabitants 
of Megara were nearly exterminated by Julius 
Caesar, and a considerable number of the cities of 
Achaea, Etolia, and Acarnania, were laid waste by 
order of Augustus, that their inhabitants might be 
compelled to dwell in the newly established Roman 
colonies of Nicopolis and Patras.f The celebrated 
letter of Sulpicius to Cicero, so familiar to the 
lovers of poetry from the paraphrase of Lord Byron, 
affords irrefragable testimony to the rapid decline of 
Greece under the Roman government.^: 

Greece suffered very severely during the civil wars. 
The troops which she still possessed were compelled 
to range themselves on one side or the other. The 
Etolians and Acarnanians joined Caesar, the 
Athenians, Lacedaemonians, and Boeotians, ranged 
themselves as partizans of Pompey. The Athenians, 
and most of the other Greeks, afterwards espoused 
the cause of Brutus and Cassius; but the Lace- 
daemonians sent a body of two thousand men to 
serve as auxiliaries to Octavius. The destruction of 
property caused by the progress through Greece of 

• Pages 34, 35. 

f Though we have no picture, by a contemporary, of the misery which 
Augustus caused in Greece, still we can imagine it to have been severe from 
the manner in which he treated Italy. He seized the property of the inha- 
bitants of eighteen of the richest cities, and divided the lands amongst his 
soldiers. The soldiers extended their invasions to the possessions of other 
cities ; and Virgil has immortalized their encroachments and robberies. 
Augustus must have settled nearly 160,000 men in the various military 
colonies which he formed, by confiscating the lands of the lawful proprietors. 
— Appian, Bell. Civ. v. 5. 13. 22. 

X ChUde Harold, canto iv. 

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the various bodies of troops, whose passions were 
inflamed by the disorders of the civil war, was not 
compensated by the favours conferred on a few 
cities by Caesar, Antony, and Augustus. The 
remission of a few taxes, or the present of additional 
revenues to an oligarchical magistracy, could 
exercise no influence on the general prosperity of 
the country. 

The depopulation, however, caused by war alone, 
would have been very soon repaired, had the govern- 
ment of Greece been equitably conducted. It is 
impossible to point out, in precise detail, all the 
various measures by which the Roman administration 
undermined the physical and moral strength of the 
Greek nation ; it is sufficient to establish the fact, 
that too much was exacted from the body of the 
people in the shape of public burdens, and that the 
neglect of all its duties on the part of the govern- 
ment, gradually diminished the productive resources 
of the country. While no useful public works were 
repaired, bands of robbers were allowed to infest 
the provinces for long periods without molestation. 
The extortions of the Roman magistrates, however, 
were more injurious, and rendered property more 
insecure, than the violence of the banditti. The 
public acts of robbery are those only which have 
been preserved by history ; but for each open attack 
on public property, hundreds of private families were 
reduced to poverty. Fulvius despoiled the temples 
of Ambracia of their most valuable ornaments, and 
even carried away the statues of the gods.* Verres, 

* B. C. 189. Livy, xxxviii. 43. 

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on his passage through Greece to his post in Cilicia, 
carried off a quantity of gold from the temple of 
Minerva at Athens.* Piso, while proconsul of 
Macedonia, plundered both it and Greece, and left 
both to be ravaged by Thracian banditti.f Even 
under the cautious and conciliatory administration 
of Augustus, the oppressive conduct of the Romans 
caused seditions, both in Laconia — which was a 
favoured district, from its having taken part with 
the emperor against Antony — and in Attica, where 
the weakness, to which the city was reduced, seemed 
to render any expression of discontent impossible.^ 
The Greeks had not, in the time of Augustus, 
entirely lost their ancient spirit and valour, and 
though comparatively feeble, their conduct was an 
object of some solicitude to the Roman government. 
It is necessary to indicate a cause of depopulation, 
which had begun to exercise some influence in 
Greece long before the Roman conquest. The 
desire of the population to occupy larger properties 
than their ancestors had cultivated, has already 
been noticed as an effect of the riches obtained by 
the Macedonian conquests; and its influence as a 
moral check on the amount of the population of 
Greece has been adverted to.J This powerful cause 
of depopulation was strengthened under the Roman 
government. The love of immense parks, splendid 
villas, and luxurious living, introduced vice and 

* Verres compelled a single city in Sicily to pay 34,000 medimni of wheat 
to one of his favourites. Cic. i» Ver. ii. 1. 17. 44. 

t Cic. in Pisonem. 17. 84. 40. pro Font. 16. 

X Strabo, Laconia, vol. ii. p. 186, 190. ed. Tauch. Ahrens, de Athenarum 
$tatu politico, etc. 12, and his authorities. 

§ P. 20. 

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celibacy to such an extent in the higher ranks, that 
the wealthy families of the empire became gradually 
extinct. A strong line of distinction was likewise 
drawn between the rich and the poor. The rich 
formed an aristocratic class, the poor were sinking 
towards a dependent grade in society ; they were 
fast approaching the state of coloni or serfs. In this 
state of society, neither class shews a tendency to 
increase. It appears indeed to be a law of human 
society, that all classes of mankind which are sepa- 
rated, by superior wealth and privileges, from the 
body of the people, are, by their oligarchical consti- 
tution, liable to a rapid decline. As the privileges 
which they enjoy have created an unnatural position 
in life, vice is increased beyond that limit which is 
consistent with the duration of society. The fact 
has been long observed with regard to the oligarchies 
of Sparta and Rome. It had its effect even on the 
more extended citizenship of Athens, and it even 
affects, in our times, the two hundred thousand 
electors who form the oligarchy of France* 

* Arist. de Rep. ii. 9. Plutarch, Lycurgus, 8. The numerous admis- 
sions of new citizens at Athens, are mentioned by Dure a u de la Malls, 
(Eeonomie Politique de% Remains, i. 419,) who has the following passage con* 
cerning the electors in France, i. 417: — Ainsi, a Paris, ou il regno plus 
d'aisance que dans le reste du royaume, la moyenne des enfants par menage 
n'est que de 3£, nombre insuffisant pour maintenir la population au meme 
niveau, puisque a vingt ana la moitae* des enfants a peri avant de se marier. 
Si Yon prend la meme moyenne but les 200,000 electeurs, elle se trouve 
encore plus faible ; cependant la population totale augmente par an de T £ 9 . 

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The real importance of the Greek people in the 
opinion of the Romans, and the necessity of com- 
manding the country by some important positions, 
are displayed in the policy which dictated the 
establishment of colonies, in some of the strongest 
posts. The Roman government had neither the 
general views of the ancient Greeks, nor of modern 
European nations, in the formation of colonies. In 
the early part of their history, the object was prin- 
cipally to remove a portion of the turbulent plebeian 
population; at a later period, the design was to 
settle the numerous bands of veterans, which 
peace compelled the government to disband, in a 
manner that would render them useful, instead of 
dangerous to the state. The improvement of the 
people, the increase of the Roman population, and 
the spread of Roman civilization, were never con- 
sidered of much consequence, and the condition of 
the expatriated colonists was little regarded. The 
first foreign colony was settled at Carthage; upwards 
of fifty had been previously established in Italy. 
After the commencement of the civil wars of Marius 
and Sylla, colonization was confined to the military ; 
though Julius Caesar, while he was moulding the 
republic into an empire, sent out about eighty 
thousand colonists of a mixed nature. In order to 
secure the permanent tranquillity of Greece, he 
determined to rebuild Corinth, which had remained 
in ruins from the time of its destruction by Mum- 

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mius. The position of Corinth was admirably suited 
for placing a military force to overlook the pro- 
ceedings of the Greeks who were opposed to Caesar's 
government. The measure was evidently one of 
precaution, and very little was done to give it the 
show of having originated in a wish to revive the 
prosperity of Greece. The population of the new 
Corinth consisted of Romans, or the descendants of 
Roman freedmen. These were either furnished with 
very scanty means for reconstructing the city, or 
they were allowed to collect building materials, 
and search for wealth, in any way, how offensive 
soever it might be to the feelings of the Greeks. 
The tombs, which had alone escaped the fury of 
Mummius, were destroyed to construct the new 
buildings, and excavated for the rich ornaments and 
valuable sepulchral vases which they often contained. 
So systematically did the Romans pursue this profes- 
sion of violating the tombs, that it became a source 
of very considerable wealth to the colony, and Rome 
was filled with works of archaic art* 

The policy of Augustus towards Greece was 
openly one of precaution. The Greeks still con- 
tinued to occupy the attention of the ruling class at 
Rome, more perhaps than their declining power 
warranted ; they had not yet sunk into the political 
insignificancy which they were destined to reach in 
the days of Juvenal and Tacitus. Augustus reduced 
the power of all those Greek states that retained 
any influence, whether they had joined his own 
party, or favoured Antony. Athens w r as deprived 

* Strabo, viii. 6. 

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of its authority over Eretria and Egina, and no 
longer permitted to increase its local revenues, by 
selling the right of citizenship. Lacedaemon was 
also weakened by the establishment of the inde- 
pendent community of the free Laconians, a con- 
federation of twenty-four maritime cities, w r hose 
population, consisting chiefly of perioikoi, had 
hitherto been subject to Sparta. Augustus, it is true, 
assigned the Island of Cythera, and a few places on 
the Messenian frontier, to the Lacedaemonian state ; 
but the gift was a very slight compensation for the 
loss sustained in a political point of view, what- 
ever it might have been in a financial. 

But the most remarkable act of the administration 
of Augustus, was the creation of two new states, 
Patras and Nicopolis, expressly founded to supplant 
the influence of Achaea and Etolia. These two 
cities were made Roman colonies. In order to 
repeople Patras, a number of soldiers were established 
as citizens of the new colony, and the municipality 
was endowed with the revenues of several of the 
Achaean and Locrian towns, which were deprived of 
their civic existence. To complete the required 
numbers of the middling and lower orders of the 
population, the inhabitants of the districts which 
surrounded Patras, were forced to abandon their 
dwellings"; and the descendants of the Cilician pirates, 
established by Pompey at Dyme, were compelled to 
become citizens of Patras. Nicopolis was founded 
in order to afford a secure station for the Roman 
garrison, placed to overawe Etolia and Epirus ; the 
name was conferred in order to celebrate the victory 
of Actium. The circumstances of its foundation 

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contribute to the many existing proofs, that humanity 
and benevolence were feelings utterly unknown to 
the policy of Augustus, and that the principles of his 
administration contributed more directly to the 
decline and depopulation of Italy and Greece, than 
the accidental tyranny or folly of any of his suc- 
cessors. The inhabitants of a great part of Etolia 
were torn from their abodes, where they were 
residing on their own property, surrounded by their 
cattle, their olive-trees, and vineyards, and compelled 
to construct such dwellings as they were able, and 
find such means of livelihood as presented themselves, 
at Nicopolis. The destruction of an immense 
amount of vested capital in provincial buildings was 
the consequence ; the agriculture of a whole province 
was ruined, and the population must have soon died 
away, in the poverty which they would experience 
under the change of a city life. The municipal 
government of Nicopolis was intrusted to a colony 
of Romans, who directed the local administration, 
and kept the Greeks in subjection. To secure the 
influence of this Roman colony in Greece, the new 
state was admitted into the Amphictyonic council, 
with a double vote.* The peculiar privileges con- 
ferred on the three Roman colonies of Corinth, 
Patras, and Nicopolis, and the close connection in 
which they were placed with the imperial govern- 
ment, enabled them to flourish for centuries amidst 
the general poverty which the despotic system of 
the Roman provincial administration spread over 
the rest of Greece. In a few generations they 
became Greek cities. 

• Pa us an us, Eliac. Pr. xxiii. 2. Phoc. xxxviii. 2. Achaica, xviii. 6. 

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Two descriptions of Greece have been preserved, 
which afford vivid pictures of the impoverished 
condition of the country, during two centuries of the 
Roman government. Strabo has left us an account 
of the depopulated aspect of Greece, shortly after the 
foundation of the Roman colonies of Patras and 
Nicopolis. Pausanias has described, with melan- 
choly exactness, the desolate appearance of many 
celebrated cities, during the time of the Antonines.* 
The taxes imposed on the country, and the burden 
of the provincial administration, drained off all the 
wealth of the people; and those necessary public 
works, which required a large expenditure for their 
maintenance and preservation, were allowed to 
deteriorate and fall gradually into ruin. The 
emperors, at times, indeed, attempted, by a few 
isolated acts of mercy, to alleviate the sufferings of 
the Greeks. Tiberius united the provinces of 
Achaea and Macedonia to the imperial government 
of Moesia, in order to deliver them from the weight 
of the proconsular administration.! When Nero 
visited Greece to receive a musical crown at the 
Olympic games, he recompensed the Greeks, for 
their flattery of his music, by declaring them free 
from tribute. The immunities which he conferred, 
produced some serious disputes between the various 

* The Miaes of Pausanias were written A. D. 173. Leake's Topo- 
graphy of Athens and Attica. Introduction, 
f Tacitus, Ann. i. 76. 80. 

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states, concerning the collection of their municipal 
taxes; and Vespasian rendered these disputes a 
pretext for annulling the freedom conferred by 
Nero.* The free cities of Greece still possessed 
not only the administration of considerable revenues, 
but also the power of raising money, by local taxes, 
for the maintenance of their temples, schools, uni- 
versities, aqueducts, roads, ports, and public build- 
ings. Trajan carefully avoided destroying any of 
the municipal privileges of the Greeks, and he 
endeavoured to improve their condition by his just 
and equitable administration; yet his policy was 
averse from the increasing of local institutions.! 

Hadrian treated Greece with peculiar favour. 
He opened a new line of policy to the sovereigns 
of Rome, and avowed the determination of reforming 
the institutions of the Romans, and adapting his 
government to the altered state of society in the 
empire. He perceived, that the central government 
was weakening its pow r er, and diminishing its re- 
sources, by acts of injustice, which rendered property 
every where insecure. To remedy the evils in the 
dispensation of the laws, he published his perpetual 
edict, which certainly exercised a favourable influence 
on the condition of the inhabitants of the provinces. 
It laid the foundation of that regular and systematic 
administration of justice in the Roman empire, which 
gradually absorbed all the local judicatures of the 
Greeks, and, by forming a numerous and well 
educated society of lawyers, guided by uniform rules, 
raised up a partial barrier against arbitrary power. 

* Pausanias, Ach. xvii. 2. Philostratus, Apoli. Tyan. v. 14. 
t Pliny, Epitt. x. 97. 

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In order to lighten the weight of taxation, Hadrian 
abandoned all the arrears of taxes accumulated in 
preceding years.* His general system of adminis- 
trative reforms was pursued by the Antonines, and 
perfected by the edict of Caracalla, which conferred 
the rank of Roman citizens on all the free inhabi- 
tants of the empire. Hadrian certainly deserves the 
merit, of having first seen the necessity of securing 
the imperial government, by effacing the badges of 
servitude from the provincials, and connecting the 
interests of the majority of the landed proprietors, 
throughout the Roman empire, with the existence of 
the imperial administration. He was the first who 
laid aside the prejudices of a Roman, and secured 
to the provincials that legal rank in the constitution 
of the empire, which placed their rights oji a level 
with those of Roman citizens. 

Hadrian, from personal taste, cultivated Greek 
literature, and admired Grecian art. He left traces 
of his love of improvement in every portion of the 
empire, through which he kept constantly travelling ; 
but Greece, and especially Attica, received an 
extraordinary share of the imperial favour. It is 
difficult to estimate how far his conduct immediately 
affected the general well-being of the population, or 
to point out the precise manner of its operation on 
society ; but it is evident, that the impulse given to 
improvement, by his example and his administration, 
produced a slight tendency to ameliorate the condi- 
tion of the Greeks. Greece had sunk to its lowest 
state of poverty and depopulation under the financial 

• Spartianus, in Adriano, p. 10. 

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oppression of the Flavian family, and it enjoyed 
the advantage of good government under Hadrian. 
The extraordinary improvements, which the Roman 
emperors might have effected in the empire, by a 
judicious employment of the public revenues, may 
be estimated from the immense public works 
executed by Hadrian. At Athens, he completed 
the temple of Jupiter Olympius, which had been 
commenced by Pisistratus, and of which sixteen 
columns still exist to astonish the spectator by their 
size and beauty. He built temples to Juno and to 
Jupiter Panhellenius, and ornamented the city by a 
magnificent pantheon, library, and gymnasium. He 
commenced an aqueduct to convey an abundant 
stream of water from Cephisia, which was completed 
by Antoninus. At Megara, he rebuilt the temple 
of Apollo. He constructed an aqueduct which 
conveyed the waters of the lake Stymphalus to 
Corinth, and he erected new baths in that city. 
But the surest proof that his improvements were 
directed by a judicious spirit, is to be found in his 
attention to the roads. Nothing could tend more 
to advance the prosperity of this mountainous 
country, than removing the difficulties of intercourse 
between its various provinces ; for there is no spot 
where the expense of transport presents a greater 
barrier to trade. He rendered the road from 
Northern Greece to the Peloponnesus by the 
Scironian rocks, easy and commodious for wheeled 
carriages. Great, however, as these improvements 
were, he conferred one still greater on the Greeks, 
as a nation, by commencing the task of moulding 
their various local customs and laws into one 

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general system, founded on the basis of the Roman 
jurisprudence ;* and while ingrafting the law of the 
Romans on the stock of society in Greece, he did 
not seek to destroy the municipal institutions of the 
people. The policy of Hadrian, in raising the Greeks 
to an equality of civil rights with the Romans, gave 
an administrative sanction to whatever remained of 
the Macedonian institutions throughout the East; 
and as soon as the edict of Caracalla had conferred on 
all the subjects of the empire the rights of Roman 
citizenship, the Greeks became, in reality, the domi- 
nant people in the Eastern portion of the Roman 
empire, and Greek institutions ultimately obtained 
the supremacy. 

It is curious, that Antoninus, who adopted all the 
views of Hadrian with regard to the annihilation of 
the exclusive supremacy of the Roman citizens, 
should have thought it worth his attention to point 
out the supposed ancient connection between Rome 
and Arcadia. He was the first Roman who com- 
memorated the relationship between Greece and 
Rome, by any public act. He conferred on Palan- 
tium, the Arcadian city from which Evander was 
supposed to have led a Greek colony to the banks 
of the Tiber, all the privileges ever granted to the 
most favoured municipalities. The habits and cha- 
racter of Marcus Aurelius, led him to regard the 
Greeks with the greatest favour ; and had his reign 
been more peaceful, and left his time more at his 
own disposal, Greece would unquestionably have 
profited by his leisure. He rebuilt the temple of 

* Spanheim, Orbit Bomanus, 393. 

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Eleusis, which had been burnt to the ground; he 
improved the schools of Athens, and increased the 
salaries of the professors, who then rendered that 
city the most celebrated university in the civilized 
world. Herodes Atticus, whose splendid public 
edifices in Greece rivalled the works of Hadrian, 
was, from his eminence in literature and taste, 
treated with distinction by Marcus Aurelius, until 
the emperor felt it was a duty to punish his 
oppressive and tyrannical conduct to the Athenians. 
When found guilty, the friendship of the emperor 
could not save him from banishment.* 

Little can be collected concerning the condition 
of Greece under the successors of Marcus Aurelius. 
The Roman government was occupied with wars, 
which seldom directly affected the provinces occu- 
pied by the Greeks. Literature and science were 
neglected by the soldiers of fortune who mounted 
the imperial throne ; and Greece, forgotten and 
neglected, appears to have enjoyed a degree of 
tranquillity and repose, which enabled her to profit 
by the improvements in the imperial government, 
which Hadrian had introduced, and the decree of 
Caracalla had ratified.f 

The institutions of the Greeks, which were un- 
connected with the exercise of the supreme executive 
power in the country, were generally allowed to 
exist, even by the most jealous of the emperors. 
When these institutions disappeared, their destruc- 
tion was effected by the progressive change, which 
time gradually introduced into Greek society, and 

* Philostratus, Vitas Soph. U. 1. 4. t A. D. 212-217. 

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not by any violence on the part of the Roman 
government. It is difficult, indeed, to trace the 
limits of the state and city administration in matters 
of taxation, or the exact extent of their control over 
their local funds. Some cities possessed indepen- 
dence, and others were free from tribute ; and these 
privileges gave the Greek nation a political position 
in the empire, which prevented their being con- 
founded with the other provincials in the East, 
until the reign of Justinian.* As the Greek cities 
in Thrace, Asia Minor, Syria, and Egypt, preserved 
these important privileges, it is not wonderful that, 
in Greece, the whole frame of the ancient social 
institutions was preserved, f 

Pausanius found the Amphictyonic council still 
holding its meetings, three centuries after the 
Roman conquest. :(: The deputies of the Achaean, 
Boeotian, and Phocic commonwealths, continued to 
meet for the purpose of transacting the business of 
their confederacies. $ The Athenians were allowed 
to maintain an armed guard in the Island of Delos. || 
The Olympic, Pythic, and Isthmian games, were 
regularly celebrated.^! The Areopagus at Athens, 
and the Gerontia at Sparta, still exercised their 
functions.** The different cities and provinces re- 
tained their peculiar dialects, and the inhabitants of 

* Airtttfiia. was the privilege of some cities, others were *rtX«r i«(«». 

t The assemblies of the people in the Greek cities were, however, regarded 
by the Romans with great jealousy : Acts, xix. 40, " For we are in danger 
to be called in question for this day's uproar, there being no cause whereby 
we may give an account of this concourse." 

t Phoc. viii. 2. § Achaica, xvi. 7. Bctot. xxxiv. 1. Phoc. iv. 2. 

II Arcad. xxxiii. % Eliae. Pr. vii. 4. Phoc. vii. 2. Corinth, ii. 2. 
** Attica, xxviii. 5. Lacon. xi. 2. 

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Sparta continued to affect the Laconism of antiquity 
in their public despatches.* The mountaineers 
of Attica, in the time of Antoninus, spoke a purer 
language than the populace of the city of Athens, 
which still bore evidence of its heterogeneous 
origin after the massacre of Sylla.f Had the finan- 
cial burdens of the Roman government not weighed 
too heavily on the population, the rivalry of the 
Greeks, directed entirely to local improvements, to 
philosophy, literature, and the arts, must have proved 
useful and honourable to their country. But the 
moral supports of the old frame-work of society 
were destroyed before the edict of Caracalla had 
emancipated Greece ; and when tranquillity arrived, 
they were only capable of enjoying the felicity of 
having been forgotten by their tyrants. 



The habits and tastes of the Greeks and Romans 
were so different, that they produced a feeling of 
antipathy in the two nations. The Roman writers, 
from prejudice and jealousy, of which they were 
themselves, perhaps, unconscious, have transmitted 
to us a very incorrect picture of the state of the 
Greeks, during the first centuries of the empire. 
They did not observe, with attention, the marked 
distinction between the Asiatic and Alexandrine 

* Strabo, viii. 1. vol. 2. 138. ed. Tauch. Paus. Messen. xxvii. 5. 
Philostratus, ApolL Tyan. ii. 62. 
+ Philostratus, v. Soph. Utrod. Att. Tacitus. 

- ^m W m> — ' m • 

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Greeks, and the natives of Hellas. The European 
population, pursuing the quiet life of landed pro- 
prietors, or engaged in the pursuits of commerce 
and agriculture, was considered, by Roman prejudice, 
as unworthy of notice. Lucian, himself a Greek 
indeed, contrasts the tranquil and respectable man- 
ner of life at Athens, with the folly and luxury of 
Rome;* but the Romans looked on provincials as 
little better than serfs, (colon?,) and merchants were, 
in their eyes, only tolerated cheats. The Greek 
character was estimated from the conduct of the 
adventurers, who thronged, from the wealthy and 
corrupted cities of the East, in order to seek their 
fortunes at Rome ; and who, from motives of 
fashion and taste, were unduly favoured by the 
wealthy aristocracy.f The most distinguished of 
these Greeks were literary men, professors of 
philosophy, rhetoric, grammar, mathematics, and 
music. Great numbers were engaged as private 
teachers; and this class was regarded with some 
respect by the Roman nobility, from its intimate 
connection with their families. The great mass of 
the Greeks residing at Rome were, however, em- 
ployed in connection with the public and private 
amusements of the capital, and were found engaged 
in every profession, from the directors of the theatres 
and operarhouses, down to the swindlers who fre- 
quented the haunts of vice. The testimony of 
the Latin authors may be received as sufficiently 


f Grammaticus, rhetor, geometres, pictor, aliptes, 
Augur, schcenobates, medicus, magus ; omnia novit 
Groculus esuriens, in coelum jusseris, ibit 

Juvenal, Sat. iii. 76. 

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accurate, concerning the light in which the Greeks 
were regarded at Rome, and as a not incorrect 
portraiture of the Greek population of the capital. 

The expressions of the Romans, when speaking of 
the Greeks, often display nothing more than the 
manner in which the proud aristocracy of the empire 
regarded all foreigners, those even whom they admit- 
ted to their personal intimacy. The Greeks were 
confounded with the great body of strangers from 
the Eastern nations, in one general sentence of 
condemnation; and not unnaturally, for the Greek 
language served as the ordinary means of com- 
munication with all foreigners from the East. The 
magicians, conjurers, and astrologers of Syria, Egypt, 
and Chaldaea, were naturally mixed up, both in 
society and public opinion, with the adventurers of 
Greece, and contributed to form the despicable type 
which was unjustly enough transferred from the 
fortune-hunters at Rome, to the whole Greek 
nation. It is hardly necessary to observe, that 
Greek literature, as cultivated at Rome during this 
period, had no connection with the national feelings 
of the Greek people. As far as the Greeks them- 
selves were concerned, learning was an honourable 
and lucrative occupation to its successful professors ; 
but, in the estimation of the higher classes at Rome, 
Greek literature was merely an ornamental exercise 
of the mind, — a fashion of the wealthy* This igno- 
rance of Greece and the Greeks, induced Juvenal to 
draw his conclusive proof of the utter falsity of the 
Greek character, and of the fabulous nature of all 

* Claudius dismissed a Greek magistrate from his employment, because he 
waB ignorant of Latin. Suetonius, Claud. 16. 

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Greek history, from his own doubts concerning a fact 
which is avouched by the testimony of Herodotus 
and Thucydides; but as a retort to the Grcecia 
mendax of the Roman satirist, the apter observation 
of Lucian may be cited — that the Romans spoke 
truth only once in their lives, and that was when 
they made their wills. * 

The Romans were never very deeply imbued with 
a passionate admiration for Grecian art, and the 
painting and sculpture which they could procure as 
articles of commercial industry, was sufficient to 
gratify their taste. This was peculiarly fortunate for 
Greece, since there can be no doubt that the republic 
and the emperors would not have hesitated in 
regarding all the works of art, which were the public 
property of the Grecian states, as belonging to the 
Roman commonwealth by the right of conquest, if 
the avarice of the people would have received any 
gratification from the seizure.f The great dissimi- 
larity of manners between the two nations, appears 
in the aversion, with which many distinguished 
senators viewed the introduction of the works of 
Grecian art, by Marcellus and Mummius, after the 
conquests of Syracuse and Corinth. This aversion 
unquestionably contributed much to save Greece 
from the general confiscation of her treasures of art, 
to which the people clung with the most passionate 
attachment. Cicero says, that no Greek city of 
Europe or Asia would consent to sell a painting, or 

* Creditor olim 
Velificatus Athoe, et quicqaid Grcecia mendax 
Audet in historia. — Juv. Sat. x. 173. 
Herod, vii. 21. Thucyd. Leake's Travels in Northern Greece. 

f Pausanius, Arcad. xlvi. 

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a statue, or a work of art, but that, on the contrary, 
all were ready to become purchasers.* The feeling 
of art, in the two people, is not inaptly illustrated, 
by comparing the conduct of the Rhodian republic 
with that of the Emperor Augustus. When the 
Rhodians were besieged by Demetrius Poliorcetes, 
they refused to destroy his statues, and those of his 
father, which had been erected in their agora. But 
when Augustus conquered Egypt, he ordered all the 
statues of Antony to be destroyed, and, with a 
meanness somewhat at variance with patrician 
dignity, he accepted a bribe of one thousand talents 
from the Alexandrines, to spare the statues of 
Cleopatra. The Greeks honoured art even more 
than the Romans loved vengeance. Works of art 
were, at times, carried away by those Roman gover- 
nors who spared nothing they could pillage in their 
provinces ; but these spoliations were always regarded 
in the light of direct robberies ; and Fulvius Nobilior, 
Verres, and Piso, who had distinguished themselves 
in this species of violence, were considered as the 
most infamous of the Roman magistrates. 

It is true, that Sylla carried off the ivory statue 
of Minerva from the temple of Alalcomenoe, and 
that Augustus removed that of the great temple of 
Tegea, as a punishment to that city for espousing 
the party of Antony, f But these very exceptions 
prove, how sparingly the Romans availed themselves 
of their rights of conquest; or history would have 
recorded the remarkable statues which they had 
allowed to remain in Greece, rather than signalized, 

* Verr. in rig. 59. f Paus. B<rot. xxxiii. 4. Arc ad. xlvi. 1. 


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at times, the few which they transported to Rome. 
When Caligula and Nero were permitted to govern 
the w r orld according to the impulses of insanity, 
they ordered many celebrated w r orks of art to be 
conveyed to Rome — among these, the celebrated 
Cupid of Praxiteles was twice removed. It w 7 as 
restored to Thespiae by Claudius ; but, on being 
again taken away by Nero, it perished in a con- 
flagration.* Very little is subsequently recorded 
concerning this species of plunder, w r hich Hadrian 
and his two successors would hardly have permitted. 
From the great number of the most celebrated 
works of ancient art which Pausanius enumerates 
in his tour through Greece, it is evident, that no 
extensive injury had then occurred, even to the 
oldest buildings. After the reign of Commodus, 
the Roman emperors paid but little attention to 
art ; and unless the value of the materials caused 
the destruction of ancient works, they were allowed 
to stand undisturbed until the buildings around 
them crumbled into dust. During the period of 
nearly a century, which elapsed from the time of 
Pausanius, until the first irruption of the Goths 
into Greece, it is certain, that the temples and 
public buildings of the inhabited cities were very 
little changed in their general aspect, from the 
appearance which they had presented, when the 
Roman legions first entered Hellas. 

* Paus. Boot, xxvii. 3. 

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In order to give a complete account of the state 
of society among the Greeks under the Roman 
empire, it would be necessary to enter into several 
dissertations connected with the political history of 
the Romans. To avoid so extensive a field, it 
will be necessary to give only a cursory sketch 
of those divisions of the Greek nation whose 
influence, though apparent in the annals of the 
Roman empire, did not permanently affect the pro- 
gress of the national history. The state of civiliza- 
tion, the popular objects of pursuit, even the views 
of national advancement, continued, under the im- 
perial government, to be very different, and often 
opposite, in the different divisions of the Greek 

The inhabitants of Hellas had sunk into a quiet 
and secluded population. The schools of Athens 
were still famous, and Greece was visited by num- 
bers of fashionable and learned travellers from other 
countries, as Italy now is ; but the citizens dwelt in 
their own little world, clinging to antiquated forms 
and usages, and to old superstitions, — holding little 
intercourse, and having little community of feeling, 
either with the rest of the empire, or with the other 
divisions of the Hellenic race. 

The maritime cities of Europe, Asia Minor, and 
the Archipelago, embraced a considerable popula- 
tion, chiefly occupied in commerce and manufactures, 
and taking little interest in the politics of Rome, or 
in the literature of Greece. All commerce was 

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despised by the Romans; and though the Greeks 
had looked on trade with more favour, yet the 
influence of declining wealth, and of unjust laws, 
was rapidly tending to depreciate the mercantile 
character, to render the occupation less respectable, 
and ruinous to the commercial cities. It is not 
inappropriate to notice one instance of Roman 
commercial legislation. Julius Caesar, among his 
projects of reform, thought fit to revive an old 
Roman law, which prohibited any citizen from 
having in his possession a larger sum than sixty 
thousand sesterces* in the precious metals. This 
law was, of course, neglected; but under Tiberius, 
it was made a pretext by informers, to levy various 
fines and confiscations in Greece and Syria, f The 
commerce of this portion of the world, which had 
once consisted of commodities of general consump- 
tion, declined, under the fiscal avarice of the Romans, 
into an export trade, to the larger cities of the west 
of Europe, of a few articles of luxury. The wines 
of the Archipelago, the carpets of Pergamus, the 
cambric of Cos, and the dyed woollens of Laconia, 
are particularly mentioned. :j: The decline of trade 
is not to be overlooked amidst the ruin of the 
Roman empire ; for wealth depended even more on 
commerce, in ancient times, than it does in modern, 
from the imperfect means of transport and banking 
which then existed. 

The division of the Greek nation, which occupied 
the most important social position in the empire, 

* L.600. f Suetonius, t» Tib. 49. 

t Pliny, Hitt. Nat. xiv.* viii. Juvenal, Sat. viii. 101. Horace, Sat. 

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consisted of the remains of the Macedonian and 
Greek colonies in Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia. 
These countries were filled with Greeks; and the 
cities of Alexandria and Antioch, the second and 
third in the empire in size, population, and wealth, 
were chiefly peopled by Greeks. The influence of 
Alexandria alone on the Roman empire, and on 
European civilization, would require a long treatise, 
in order to do justice to the subject. Its schools of 
philosophy produced modifications of Christianity in 
the East. Those feuds between the Jews and Chris- 
tians, which its municipal disputes first created, were, 
by its powerful influence, bequeathed to following 
centuries, so that, in Western Europe, we still 
debase Christianity by the admixture of those preju- 
dices which had their rise in the amphitheatre of 
Alexandria. Its wealth and population excited the 
jealousy of Augustus, who deprived it of its muni- 
cipal institutions, and rendered it a prey to the 
factions of the amphitheatre, the curse of Roman 
civic anarchy. The populace, unrestrained by any 
system of order, and without any social guidance, 
followed the dictates of their passions whenever 
they were crowded together. Hadrian was struck 
with the activity and industry of the Alexandrines ; 
and though he does not appear to have admired 
their character, he saw that the increase of their 
privileges was the true way to lessen the influence 
of the mob. 

Antioch, and the other Greek cities of the East, 
had preserved their municipal privileges; and the 
Greek population in Egypt, Syria, and Mesopotamia, 
remained every where completely separated from the 

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original inhabitants. Their corporate organization 
often afforded them an opportunity of interfering 
with the details of the public administration, and 
their bold and seditious spirit enabled them to 
defend their own rights and interests. When the 
free population of the provinces acquired the rights 
of Roman citizenship, the Greeks of these countries, 
who formed the majority of the privileged classes, 
and were already in possession of the principal share 
of the local administration, became soon possessed 
of the whole authority of the Roman government. 
They appeared as the real representatives of the 
state, placed the native population in the position 
of a party excluded from power, and consequently 
rendered it more dissatisfied than formerly. In 
the East, therefore, after the publication of Cara- 
calla's edict, the Greeks immediately became again 
the dominant people in the East. In spite of the 
equality of all the provincials in the eye of the law, 
a violent opposition was created between the Greeks 
and the natives ; and the Greeks, in a large portion 
of the eastern half of the empire, occupied a position 
exactly similar to that of the Romans in the western. 
The same causes produced similar effects in the 
East and the West ; and from the period when the 
Greeks became a privileged and dominant class, 
administering the severe fiscal supremacy of the 
Roman government, instead of ruling with the equal 
justice of their Macedonian ancestors, their numbers 
and influence began to decline. Like the Romans 
of Italy, Gaul, and Spain, the Greeks of Egypt, 
Syria, and Mesopotamia destroyed themselves. 
It is now necessary to enter on a more minute 

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inquiry into the causes which affected the social condi- 
tion of the native Greeks, since their secluded position 
in the empire almost conceals them from the tract 
of the political historian. The principal causes of 
the decline of Greece have been already explained ; 
but the tone of society in the country, and the 
manner of living adopted by the upper and middling 
ranks, must not be overlooked, in tracing the progress 
of national decay. During the disorders of the civil 
wars, while the Roman generals were distributing 
the accumulated treasures of numerous sovereigns in 
order to gain partizans, not only was the value of the 
precious metals very much reduced, but enormous 
fortunes also were made by many Greeks; and a 
scale of expense was adopted, by all those who were 
connected with the administration, which individuals 
were never prudent enough to diminish before the 
resources of the land had declined, and the value of 
money had risen. It has been already remarked, 
that the increase of wealth consequent on the 
Macedonian conquests, had tended to augment the 
size of private properties, and to add to the numbers 
of slaves in Greece. Under the Romans, the general 
riches of the country were indeed very much dimi- 
nished; but individuals were enabled to acquire 
fortunes greater than had been possessed by the 
ancient monarchs, and to possess estates larger than 
the territories of many celebrated republics. Julius 
Eurycles owned a province, and Herodes Atticus 
could have purchased a kingdom. While a few 
individuals could amass unbounded wealth, the 
bulk of the people were prevented from acquiring 
even a moderate independency ; and when Plutarch 

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says that Greece, in his time, could not ami more 
than three thousand hoplitce, though the small states 
of Sicyon and Megara each furnished that number 
at the battle of Platea, it is necessary to remember 
the change which had taken place in the size of 
private properties, as well as the altered state of 
society, for both tended to diminish the numbers of 
the free population.* The taxes of Greece were 
remitted to Rome, and expended beyond the limits 
of the province. The most useful public works were 
neglected, except when a benevolent emperor like 
Hadrian, or a wealthy individual like Herodes 
Atticus, thought fit to direct some portion of their 
expenditure to what was useful as well as ornamental. 
Under a continuance of such circumstances, Greece 
was drained of money. 

The poverty of Greece was farther increased by 
the gradual rise in the value of the precious metals, 
— an evil which began to be generally felt about the 
time of Nero, and which affected Greece with great 
severity, from the altered distribution of wealth in 
the country, and the loss of its foreign commerce. 
Greece had once been rich in mines, which had 
been a source of wealth and prosperity to Siphnos 
and Atticus, and had laid the foundation of the 
power of Philip of Macedon. Gold and silver mines, 
when their produce is regarded as articles of com- 
merce, are a surer basis of wealth than mines of 
lead and copper. The evils which have arisen in 
the countries where they have been produced, have 
proceeded from the fiscal regulations of the govern- 

* De Oraculis. 

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ment. The fiscal measures of the Romans soon 
rendered it a ruinous speculation for private indi- 
viduals to attempt working mines of the precious 
metals, and, in the hands of the state, they soon 
proved unprofitable. Many mines were exhausted ; 
and even though the value of the precious metals 
was enhanced, some, beyond the influence of the 
Roman power, were abandoned from those causes 
which, after the second century of the Christian era, 
produced a sensible diminution in the commercial 
transactions of the old hemisphere.* 

Greece suffered in the general decay ; her com- 
merce and manufactures, being confined to supplying 
the consumption of a diminished and impoverished 
population, sank into insignificancy. It may be 
observed, that in a declining state of society, where 
political, financial, and commercial causes combine 
to diminish the wealth of a nation, it is difficult for 
individuals to alter their manner of life, and to 
restrict their expenditure, with the promptitude 
necessary to escape ruin. It is indeed seldom in 
their power to estimate the progress of the decay ; 
and a reasonable jointure, or a necessary mortgage, 
often achieves the ruin of a family. 

In this declining state of society, complaints of 
the excess of luxury are generally prevalent, and 
the Greek writers of the second century are filled 
with lamentations on this subject. Such complaints, 
however, when applied to Greece, do not prove that the 
majority of the higher classes were living in a manner 
injurious to society, either from their effeminacy or 

* Jacob's Historical Inquiry into the Production and Contumption of the 
Precious Metal$> i. 35. 42. 

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vicious expenditure. They only shew that the greater 
part of the incomes of private persons was con- 
sumed by their personal expenditure ; and that a 
due proportion was not set apart for creating new 
productive property, in order to replace the dete- 
rioration, which time is ever causing in that which 
already exists. People of property, when their 
annual incomes proved insufficient for their personal 
expenditure, began to borrow money, instead of try- 
ing to diminish their expenses. An accumulation of 
debts became general throughout the country, and 
formed an extensive evil in the time of Plutarch.* 
These debts were partly caused by the oppression of 
the Roman government, and by the chicanery of 
the fiscal officers, always pressing for ready money, 
and were generally contracted to Roman money- 
lenders. It was, in this way, that the Roman 
administration produced its most injurious effects in 
the provinces, by affording to one class the means 
of accumulating enormous wealth, and by forcing 
another into abject poverty. The property of the 
Greek debtors was at last transferred, to a very great 
extent, to the Roman creditors. This transference, 
which, in a homogeneous society, might have 
invigorated the upper classes, by substituting an 
industrious timocracy for an idle aristocracy, had a 
very different effect. It introduced new feelings of 
rivalry and extravagance, by filling the country with 
foreign landlords. The Greeks could not long 
maintain the struggle, and they sank gradually lower 
and lower in wealth, until their poverty introduced 

* riifi roZ /Ltrt let* lavii%iff$ai. Dc vitando sere alieno. 

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an altered state of society, and taught them the 
prudential and industrious habits of small pro- 
prietors, in which tranquil position they escape, not 
only from the eye of history, but even from anti- 
quarian research. 

It is difficult to convey a correct notion of the evils 
and demoralization produced by private debts in the 
ancient world, though they often appear as one of 
the most powerful agents in political revolutions, 
and were a constant subject of attention to the 
statesman and the lawgiver. Modern society has 
completely annihilated their political effects. The 
greater facilities now afforded to the transference of 
landed property, and the ease with which capital 
now circulates, have given an extension to the 
operations of banking, and remedied this peculiar 
defect in society. It must be noticed, too, that the 
ancients regarded landed property as the accessory 
of the citizen, though it might determine his rank 
in the commonwealth ; but the moderns view the 
proprietor as the accessory of the landed property, 
and the political franchise, being inherent in the 
estate, as lost by the citizen who alienates his 

In closing this view of the state of the Greek 
people under the imperial government, it is impossible 
not to feel, that Greece cannot be included in the 
general assertion of Gibbon, that " if a man were 
called to fix the period in the history of the world 
during which the condition of the human race was 
most happy and prosperous, he would, without 
hesitation, name that which elapsed from the death 

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of Domitian to the accession of Commodus,"* It 
may be doubted whether the Roman government 
ever relaxed the systematic oppression under which 
the agricultural and commercial population of its 
provinces groaned ; and even Hadrian himself can 
hardly claim greater merit, than that of having 
humanely administered a system radically bad, and 
endeavoured to correct its most prominent features 
of injustice. Greece, indeed, reached its lowest 
degree of misery and depopulation about the time of 
Vespasian ; but still there is ample testimony in the 
pages of cotemporary writers, to prove that the 
desolate state of the country was not materially 
improved for a long period, and that only partial 
signs of amelioration were apparent in the period 
so much vaunted by Gibbon, f The liberality of 
Hadrian, and the munificence of Herodes Atticus, 
were isolated examples, and could not change the 
constitution of Rome. The splendid edifices of 
antiquity repaired by these two benefactors of 
Greece, though works of public utility, had remained 
neglected on account of the poverty of the diminished 
population of the country ; and many of their works 
contributed little more to the well-being of the 
people, than the wages of the labour expended on 
their construction. The roads and acqueducts of 
Hadrian are wise exceptions, — as they diminished the 
expenses of transport, and afforded increased facilities 

* Decline and FaU, i. 126. The state of Egypt was almost as bad as that 
of Greece. — Aristides, Orai. Egypt, Compare Millman's History of Chris- 
tianity, vol. i. Book ii. c vii. 

t Plutarch, Lucian, Pausanias, Philostbatus. 

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for production. Still the sumptuous edifices, of 
which remains still exist, indicate that the object of 
building was the erection of magnificent monuments 
— to commemorate the taste and splendour of the 

The condition of a declining population by no 
means implies, that any portion of the people is 
actually suffering from want of the necessaries of life. 
A sudden change in the direction of commerce, and 
a considerable decrease in the demand for the pro- 
ductions of manufacturing industry, must indeed, at 
the time when such events occur, deprive numbers 
of their usual means of subsistence, and create great 
misery, before the population suffer the ultimate 
diminution which these causes necessitate. But, 
when the chief bulk of a country's productions is 
drawn from its own soil, and consumed by its own 
inhabitants, the population may be in a declining 
condition, without the circumstance being suspected 
for some time, either at home or abroad. The chief 
cause of the deterioration of the national resources, 
will then be found to arise from the whole society's 
consuming too great a proportion of their annual 
income, without dedicating a due portion of their 
revenues to reproduction; in short, from living up 
to their incomes, without endeavouring to create 
new sources of income, or striving to augment the 
old. Greece suffered from all the causes alluded 
to; her commerce and manufactures were trans- 
ferred to other lands, and her inhabitants resolved 
to enjoy life, instead of usefully employing their 
time. But this diminution in the wealth of the 

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people requires to be noticed, as laying the founda- 
tion for a great step in the improvement of the 
human species. Poverty rendered slavery less fre- 
quent, and destroyed many of the channels by which 
the slave trade had flourished. The condition of 
the slaves also underwent several modifications, as 
the barrier between the slave and the citizen was 
broken down. At this favourable conjuncture 
Christianity stepped in, to prevent injustice from 
ever recovering the ground which humanity had 

Under oppressive governments, the person some- 
times becomes more insecure than property. This 
appears to have been the case under the Roman, 
as it has since been under the Turkish government ; 
and the population, in such cases, decreases much 
more rapidly than property is destroyed. The 
inhabitants of Greece under the Roman empire, 
found themselves possessed of buildings, gardens, 
vineyards, olive plantations, and all the agricultural 
produce which the capital of former ages had been 
able to produce, to an extent capable of maintaining 
a numerous population. The want of commerce, 
neglected roads, the rarity of the precious metals in 
circulation, and the difficulties thrown in the way of 
petty traffic, by injudicious legislation, rendered the 
surplus produce of each separate district of little 
value. The inhabitants enjoyed the mere necessaries 
of life, and some of the luxuries of their climate in 
great abundance, but when they looked at the pro- 
ductions of art, and foreign commerce, they felt 
themselves to be poor. Such a state of society 

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inevitably introduces a system of wasting what is 
superfluous, and of neglecting the means of future 
production. In this condition of indifference and 
ease, the population of Greece remained, until the 
weakness of the Roman government, and the dis- 
orders of the army, opened a way for the northern 
nations into the heart of the empire. 


The earliest records of the Greeks, represent 
them as living completely free from the despotic 
authority of a priestly class. The natural conse- 
quence of this freedom from an irrefragable decision 
on matters of religious opinion, was an indefinite 
latitude in the dogmas of the national faith : and the 
priesthood, as it existed, became a very incorrect 
interpreter of public opinion in religious questions. 
The belief in the gods of Olympus, had been shaken 
as early as in the age of Pericles, and had undergone 
many modifications, after the Macedonian conquests. 
From the time the Romans became masters of 
Greece, the majority of the educated were votaries 
of the different philosophical sects, — every one 
of which viewed the established religion as a 
mere popular delusion. But the Roman govern- 
ment, and the municipal authorities, continued to 
support the various religions of the different pro- 
vinces in their legal rights, though the priesthood 
generally enjoyed this support, rather in their 

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character of constituted corporations, than because 
they were regarded as spiritual guides. The amount 
of their revenues, and the extent of their civic rights 
and privileges, alone engaged the attention of the 

The wealth and number of the religious establish- 
ments in Greece, and the large funds possessed by 
corporations, which were appropriated to private fes- 
tivals, contributed, in no small degree, to encourage 
idleness among the people, and perpetuate a taste 
for extravagance. The great festivals of the Olympic, 
Pythic, and Isthmian games, in so far as they served 
to unite the whole Greek nation in a common place 
of assembly for national objects, were, indeed, pro- 
ductive of some advantage. They contributed to 
maintain a general standard of public opinion 
throughout the Hellenic race, and they kept up a 
feeling of nationality. But the dissipation occasioned 
by the multitude of local religious feasts, and the 
extravagant public amusements celebrated at the 
expense of the funds belonging to the temples, 
produced the most injurious effects on society. 

The privilege, called the right of asylum, which 
was enjoyed by some ancient temples, tended to 
encourage the open violation of every principle of 
justice. This privilege conferred the power of pro- 
tecting all criminals who sought shelter in the 
sanctuary. The fear of punishment, and the strength 
of moral obligations, were both destroyed by this 
impunity openly granted to the most heinous crimes. 
This abuse had extended to such a degree under the 
Roman government, that Tiberius found it necessary 

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to mitigate the evil ; but many shrines were allowed 
to retain the right of asylum to a much later 

Though ancient superstitions were still practised, 
old religious feelings were extinct. The oracles, 
which had once formed the most remarkable of the 
sacred institutions of the Greeks, had fallen into 
decay .f It is, however, incorrect to suppose, that 
the Pythoness ceased to deliver her responses from 
the time of our Saviour's birth, for she was consulted 
by the emperors long after. Many oracles continued 
to be in considerable repute, even after the intro- 
duction of Christianity, in Greece. Pausanias 
mentions the oracle of Mallos in Cilicia, as the most 
veracious in his time.t Claros and Didymi were 
famous, and much consulted in the time of Lucian ; 
and even new oracles were commenced as a profitable 
speculation.^ The oracles continued to give their 
responses to fervent votaries, long after they had 
fallen into general neglect. Julian endeavoured to 
revive their influence, and he consulted those of 
Delphi, Delos, and Dodona, concerning the result of 
his Persian expedition. || He vainly attempted to 
restore Delphi and Daphne near Antioch, to their 
ancient splendour. ^[ Even so late as the reign of 
Theodosius the Great, those of Delphi, Didymi, and 
Jupiter Ammon were in existence, but from that 

* Tacitus, Ann. iii. 60. Crebrescebat enim Graecas per urbee licentia 
atque impunitas asyla statuendi. Ibid. iv. 14. 

f Plutarch, de orae. defect, vii. 709. ed. Tauch. X Attica, xxxiv. 2. 
§ Lucian's Alexander and Peregrinue. 
II Theodoretus, Hut. EeeUs. iii. 16. 

IT Cbdrenus, Hitt. Com j>. p. 304. Ammianus Mabcrllinus, xxii. 12. 


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period, they became utterly silent.* The reverence 
which had formerly been paid to them, was trans- 
ferred to astrologers, who were consulted by all 
ranks and on all occasions. Tiberius, Otho, Hadrian, 
and Severus, are all mentioned as votaries of this 
mode of searching into the secrets of futurity, f 
Yet hidden divination, to which astrology belonged, 
had been prohibited by the laws of the twelve 
tables, and was condemned both by express law and 
by the spirit of the Roman state religion. By the 
Greeks even, it was regarded as an illicit and dis- 
graceful practice.:): 

During the first century of the Christian era, the 
worship of Serapis made great progress in every part 
of the Roman empire. The fact deserves notice, as 
it indicates the annihilation of all reverence for the 
old system of paganism, and marks a desire, in the 
public mind, to search after those truths which the 
Christian dispensation soon after revealed. The 
religion of Serapis inculcated the existence of 
another world, and was held in profound reverence 
by a numerous body of votaries. 

The speculations of the philosophers had first 
shaken the respect of the Greeks for the religion of 
their ancestors. The religion of the people was, 
however, so utterly worthless as a moral guide, 
that the worst effect of the destruction of its 

* See various authorities cited by Van Limburo. Brouwer, Histoire de 
la civilization morale et religieuse des Orecs, vol. 6. p. 32. Symmachus, 
Epitt. iv. 35. 

+ Tacitus, Ann. vii. 20. Hist. i. 22. Spartianus, Hadrian, 2. Severus, 
p. 65, ed. Paris, 1620. 

t Are mathematica damnabilis est et intcrdicta omnino, Cod. Just. 9. 8. 2. 
Bon amy, Du rapport de la magic avec la thtologie Paienne. Mhnoires de 
V Academic des Inscriptions, vii. 25. 

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influence, was the separation of the ethic and intel- 
lectual education of the higher and lower classes, 
which ensued as soon as the systems of the philoso- 
phers and priests were brought into direct opposition. 
In so far as the civilization of the Greek race was 
concerned, it was doubtless more effectually advanced 
by the formation of a national philosophy, than it 
could ever have been by the authority of a religion, 
so utterly destitute of intellectual power, and so 
compliant in its form, as that of Greece. The 
attention, which the Greeks always paid to philo- 
sophy and metaphysical speculation, is a curious 
feature in their mental character, and owes its 
origin in part, to the happy logical analogies of their 
native language; but in the days of Grecian inde- 
pendence, this was only a distinctive characteristic 
of a small portion of the cultivated minds in the 
nation. From that peculiar condition of society, 
which resulted from the existence of a number of 
small independent states, a larger portion of the 
nation was occupied with the higher branches of 
political business, than has ever been the case, in 
any other equally numerous body of mankind. 
Every city in Greece held the rank of a capital, 
and possessed its own statesmen and lawyers. The 
sense of this importance, and the weight of this 
responsibility, stimulated the Greeks to the extra- 
ordinary exertions of intellect with which their 
history is filled ; for the strongest spur to exertion 
among men, is the existence of a duty imposed 
as a voluntary obligation. 

The habits of social intercourse, and the simple 
manner of life, which prevailed in the Greek 

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republics, rendered the private conduct of every 
distinguished citizen as well known, and as con- 
stantly a subject of scrutiny, to his fellow-citizens, 
as his public career. This powerful agency of public 
opinion, served to enforce a conventional morality, 
which, though lax in its ethics, was at least impera- 
tive in its demands. But, when the international 
system of the Hellenic states was destroyed, when 
an altered condition of society had introduced greater 
privacy into the habits of social life, and put a stop 
to public intercourse among the citizens of the 
same region, by giving a marked prominence to the 
distinctions of rank and wealth, the private conduct 
of those, who were engaged in public life, was, in a 
great degree, withdrawn from the examination of 
the people; and the effect of public opinion was 
gradually weakened, as the grounds, on which it 
was formed, became less personal and characteristic. 
Political circumstances began, about the same 
time, to weaken the efficacy of public opinion, in 
affairs of government and administration. The 
want of some substitute, to replace its powerful 
influence on the every-day conduct of man, was so 
imperiously felt, that one was eagerly sought for. 
Religion had long ceased to be a guide in morality ; 
and men strove to find some feeling which would 
replace the forgotten fear of the gods, and that 
public opinion which could once inspire self respect.* 
It was hoped, that philosophy could supply the 
want ; and it was cultivated not only by the studious 

* Tacitus owns the confusion in his own feelings. — Ann. vi. 22. Sed 
mihi, heec ac talis audienti, in incerto judicium est, fato-ne res mortalium 
et necessitate immutabili, an forte volvantur. 

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and the learned, but by the world at large, in the 
belief that the self-respect of the philosopher would 
prove a sure ground to pure morality, and inspire a 
deep sense of justice. The necessity of obtaining 
some permanent power over the moral conduct of 
mankind, was naturally suggested to the Greeks, by 
the political injustice under which they suffered; 
and the hope, that philosophical studies would 
temper the minds of their masters to equity, and 
awaken feelings of humanity in their hearts, could 
not fail to exert considerable influence. When the 
Romans themselves had fallen into a state of moral 
and political degradation, lower even than that of 
the Greeks, it is not surprising, that the educated 
classes should have cultivated philosophy with great 
eagerness, and with nearly similar views. The uni- 
versal craving after justice and truth, affords a key 
to the profound respect, with which teachers of 
philosophy were regarded. Their authority and their 
character were so high, that they mixed with all 
ranks, and preserved their power, in spite of all the 
ridicule of the satirists. The general purity of their 
lives, and the justice of their conduct, were acknow- 
ledged, though a few may have been corrupted by 
court favour ; and pretenders often assumed a long 
beard, and dirty garments, to act the monk and the 
jester, with greater effect, at the table of the wealthy 
Romans. The inadequacy of any philosophical 
opinions to produce the results required of them, 
was, at last, apparent in the changes and modifica- 
tions which the various sects were constantly making 
in the tenets of their founders, and the vain attempts 
that were undertaken, to graft the paganism of the 

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past, on the modern systems of philosophy. The 
great principle of truth, which all were eagerly 
searching after, seemed to elude their grasp; yet 
these investigations w T ere not without great use in 
improving the intellectual and moral condition of the 
higher orders, and rendering life tolerable, when the 
tyranny and anarchy of the imperial government 
threatened the destruction of society. They pre- 
pared the minds of men for listening candidly to a 
new religion, and rendered many of the votaries of 
philosophy the ready converts to the doctrines of 

Philosophy lent a splendour to the Greek name ; 
yet, with the exception of Athens, learning and 
philosophy were but little cultivated in European 
Greece. The poverty of the inhabitants, and the 
secluded position of the country, induced few to 
dedicate their time to literary pursuits; and after 
the time of the Antonines, the wealthy cities of 
Asia, Syria, and Egypt, contained the real repre- 
sentatives of the intellectual supremacy of the 
Hellenic race. The Greeks of Europe, unnoticed 
by history, were carefully cherishing their national 
institutions; while, in the eyes of foreigners, the 
Greek character and fame depended on the civiliza- 
tion of an expatriated population, already declining 
in number, and hastening to extinction. The social 
institutions of the Greeks have, therefore, been 
more useful to them in a national point of view, 
than even their literature. 

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The want of foreign colonies, created by emigra- 
tion, and which admitted of a constant influx of 
new emigrants, must have exercised a powerful 
influence in arresting the progress of society in the 
Roman world. Rome never, like Phoenicia and 
Greece, permitted numerous bands of her citizens 
to depart from poverty in their own country, in 
order to better their fortunes in other lands. Her 
oligarchical constitution regarded the people as the 
property of the state. The civilization of the 
Romans followed only in the train of their armies, 
and stopped when the emperors ceased to pursue 
the system of conquest, which had previously 
engaged the energies, and increased the popula- 
tion of the state. Even before the policy of 
Augustus had established universal peace, and 
reduced the Roman army into a corps of gendar- 
merie, or armed police, for guarding the internal 
tranquillity of the provinces, or watching the peace- 
ful frontiers, a combination of inherent defects, in 
the constitution of the Roman state, had begun to 
destroy the lower order of Roman citizens.* The 
people required a new field of action, when the old 
was closed for ever, in order to engage their ener- 

* See the able examination of this subject in the Economic Politique de* 
Remains, par Dureau de la Malle ; and an excellent Mtmoire sur Us 
seeours publics chcz les Remains, par Naudet. Acadttnie des Inscriptions, 
nouv. coll. torn. xiii. 

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gies in active pursuits, and prevent them from 
pining away in poverty and idleness. The want of 
colonies of emigration, at this conjuncture, kept all 
the evil elements of the population fermenting 
within the state. The want of some distant spot, 
connected with the past history of their race, but 
freed from the existing social restrictions which 
weighed heavily on the minds of the ambitious and 
the proud, compelled the Romans to make their 
way in society as they were able, and it affords some 
explanation of the composition of the imperial 
armies, into which all the unquiet elements of 
society removed. 

Foreign colonies were but ill replaced, by the 
practice adopted by the Roman citizens of seeking 
their fortunes in Spain, Gaul, and Britain ; though 
that species of emigration long tended to preserve 
an impulse towards improvement, in the western 
portion of the Roman empire. The policy of the 
emperors was directed to render society stationary ; 
and it escaped the observaton of profound states- 
men, like Augustus and Tiberius, that the most 
efficient means of securing it from decline, con- 
sisted in the formation of a regular demand on 
the population, by permitting emigration. Foreign 
colonization was, however, adverse to all the pre- 
judices of a Roman. The policy and religion of the 
state were equally opposed to the residence of any 
citizen beyond the bounds of the empire ; and the 
constant diminution of the inhabitants of Italy, 
which had accompanied the extended conquests of 
the republic, seemed to indicate, that the great duty 
of the masters of Italy was to encourage an increase 

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of the people, which they could hardly suppose could 
be promoted fey emigration. 

The decline in the population of Italy, proceeded 
from evils inherent in the political system of the 
Roman government, and which exercised their 
influence in the Grecian provinces of the empire, 
but which can only be traced, with historical accu- 
racy, in their details, close to the centre of the 
executive power. The system of administration in 
the republic had always tended to aggrandize the 
aristocracy, who talked much of glory, but thought 
constantly of wealth. When the conquests of Rome 
were extended over all the richest countries of the 
ancient world, the leading families accumulated 
incredible riches, — riches, indeed, far exceeding the 
wealth of modern sovereigns. Villas and parks 
were formed over all Italy on a scale of the most 
sumptuous grandeur, and land became more valu- 
able as hunting grounds, than as productive farms. 
The same habits were introduced into the pro- 
vinces.* In the neighbourhood of Rome, agricul- 
ture was ruined by the public distributions of grain 
received as tribute from the provinces, and by the 
bounty granted to importing merchants to secure a 
maximum price of bread.f The same system again 
prevailed in the provinces ; and public distributions 
at Alexandria and Antioch must have proved 
equally injurious. Another cause of the decline in 
the population of the empire, was the great increase 
of the slaves, which took place on the rapid 

* Latifundia perdidere Italiam, jam vero et provincial Punt, Hist. 
Nat. xvii. 7. 3. Tacitus, Ann. iii. 54. 
t Subtonius, Aug. 42. 

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conquests of the Romans, and the diffusion of the 
immense treasures which they expended. There is 
a considerable waste of productive industry among 
a slave population ; and free labourers cease to exist, 
rather than perpetuate their race, when degraded to 
the same level in society as the slaves. When the 
insecurity of property and person under the Roman 
government, and the corrupt state of society, are 
added to these various causes of decay, the decline 
and depopulation of the empire does not require 
farther explanation. 

Yet society would not, probably, have declined as 
it did, under the weight of the Roman power, had 
the active, intelligent, and virtuous members of the 
middle classes possessed the means of escaping from 
a social position, so calculated to excite feelings of 
despair. But it is in vain to offer conjectures on 
the subject ; for the vice in the Roman constitution, 
which rendered all their military and state colonies 
merely sources of aggrandizement to the aristocracy, 
may have proceeded from some inherent defect in 
the social notions of the people ; and, consequently, 
might have entailed ruin on any Roman society, 
established beyond the authority of the senate or 
the emperors. The social organization of nations 
affects their vitality, as much as their political con- 
stitution affects their power and fortunes. 

The exclusively Roman feeling, which was adverse 
to all foreign colonization, was first attacked when 
Christianity spread itself beyond the limits of the 
empire. The fact, that Christianity was not iden- 
tical with citizenship, or, at least, with subjection to 
Rome, was a powerful cause of creating that adverse 

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feeling towards the Christians, which branded them 
as enemies of the human race ; for, in the mouth of 
a Roman, the human race was a phrase for the 
empire of Rome, and the Christians were really 
persecuted by emperors like Trajan and Marcus 
Aurelius, because they were regarded as having 
little attachment to the Roman government, and 
because their humanity was stronger than their 



After the reign of Caracalla, the whole attention 
of the Roman government was absorbed in the 
necessity of defending the empire against the inva- 
sions of the northern nations. Two centuries of 
communication with the Roman world, had extended 
the effects of incipient civilization throughout all the 
north of Europe. Trade had created new wants, 
and given a new impulse to society. This state of 
improvement always causes a rapid increase of popu- 
lation, and awakens a spirit of enterprise, which 
makes the apparent increase even greater than the 
real. The history of every people which has attained 
any eminence in the annals of mankind, has been 
marked by a similar period of activity. The Greeks, 
the Romans, and the Arabs, poured out a succession 
of armies, which must have astonished the nations 
which they attacked, quite as much as the apparently 
inexhaustible armies of the Goths, amazed the 
degenerate Romans. Yet few events, in the whole 

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course of history, seem more extraordinary than the 
success of the uncivilized Goths, against the well 
disciplined legions of imperial Rome, and their 
successful inroads into the thickly-peopled provinces 
of the Roman empire. The causes of the success of 
the Goths are evidently to be sought within the 
empire; the oppression of the provincials, the dis- 
order in the finances, and the relaxation in the 
discipline of the troops, contributed more to their 
victories than their own strength or military skill. 
If any national feeling, or common political interest, 
had connected the people, the army, and the sove- 
reign, the Roman empire would have easily repulsed 
the attacks of all its enemies ; nay, had the govern- 
ment not arrested the natural progress of its subjects, 
by vicious legislation and corrupt administration, 
the barbarous inhabitants of Germany, Poland, and 
Russia, could no more have resisted the force of 
Roman civilization, than those of Spain, Gaul, and 
Britain. But this task required to be supported by 
the energy of national feeling; it was far beyond 
the strength of the imperial, or any other central 
government. The ablest of the despots, who styled 
themselves the world's masters, durst not, though 
nourished in camps, attempt a career of foreign 
conquest ; and these imperial soldiers were satisfied 
with the inglorious task, of preserving the limits of 
the empire without diminution. Even Severus, 
after he had consolidated a systematic despotism, 
based on military power, did not aspire at extending 
the empire. This avowed inability of the Roman 
armies to make any farther progress, invited the 
barbarians to attack the provinces. If a band of 

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assailants proved successful in breaking through the 
Roman lines, they were sure of considerable plunder. 
If they were repulsed, they could generally evade 
pursuit. These incursions became the employment 
of armies and nations ; and, to the timid eye of the 
unwarlike and unarmed citizen of the empire, the 
whole population of the north appeared to be con- 
stantly on its march, to plunder and enslave the 
wealthy and peaceable inhabitants of the south. 

Various means of defence were employed by the 
reigning sovereigns. Alexander Severus secured 
the tranquillity of the frontiers, by paying subsidies 
to the barbarians. Decius fell, defending the pro- 
vinces against an immense army of Goths, which 
had penetrated into the heart of Moesia ; and Gallus 
purchased the retreat of the victors, by engaging to 
pay an annual tribute. The disorder in the Roman 
government increased, the succession of emperors 
became more rapid, and the numbers of the invaders 
augmented. Various tribes and nations, called, by 
the Greeks and Romans, Scythians and Goths, and 
belonging to the great families now called the 
Sclavonic and Germanic stock, under the names of 
East and West Goths, Vandals, Heruls, Borans, 
Karps, Penks, and Urugunds, crossed the Danube.* 
Their incursions were pushed through Moesia into 
Thrace and Macedonia; an immense booty was 
carried * away, and a greater amount of property 
destroyed ; thousands of the industrious inhabitants 
were reduced to slavery, and a far greater number 
massacred by the cruelty of the invaders. 

* Zo9imus, i. 31. 42. 

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The Greeks were awakened, by these invasions, 
from the state of lethargy in which they had reposed 
for three centuries. They began to repair the long 
neglected fortifications of their towns, and muster 
their city guards and rural police, for a conflict in 
defence of their property. Cowardice had long been 
supposed, by the Romans, to be an incurable vice 
of the Greeks. The Greeks had been compelled to 
appear before the Romans with an obsequious and 
humble mean, and every worthless Roman had thence 
arrogated to himself a fancied superiority. But the 
truth is, that all the middling classes in the Roman 
world had, from the time of Augustus, become averse 
from sacrificing their ease, for the doubtful glory 
to be gained in the imperial service. No patriotic 
feeling drew men to the camp ; and the allurements 
of ambition were stifled by obscurity of station and 
hopelessness of promotion. The young nobility of 
Rome, when called upon to serve in the legions, 
after the defeat of Varrus, displayed signs of cowar- 
dice unparalleled in the history of Greece. Like 
the Fellahs of modern Egypt, they cut off their 
thumbs in order to escape military service.* Greece 
could contribute but little to the defence of the 
empire ; but Caracalla had drawn from Sparta some 
troops, who had joined the legions on the Danube.f 
Decius, before his defeat, had ordered the proconsul 
of Achsea to leave a garrison of about fifteen hun- 
dred men in his province, to defend the passes of 
Thermopylae, and the Isthmus of Corinth. J The 

* Suetonius, in Aug. 24. f Hekodian, iv. 8. 

X These troops consisted of 200 Dardanians, 100 heavy armed soldiers, 
160 cavalry, 60 Cretan bowmen, and 1000 newly enrolled troops of the line. 
Trebellius Pollio. Claud. 16, 

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smallness of the number is curious, and seems to 
indicate the tranquil condition of the Hellenic 

The preparations for defending the country were 
actively carried on, both in northern Greece and at 
the isthmus ; and it was not long before the 
Greeks were called upon to prove the efficiency of 
their warlike arrangements * A body of Goths, • 
having seized the Taunic Chersonnesus, which then 
formed the independent kingdom of Bosporus, com- 
menced a series of naval expeditions, against the 
southern shores of the Black Sea. They soon 
penetrated through the Thracian Bosphorus, and, 
aided by additional bands who had proceeded from 
the banks of the Danube by land, they marched into 
Asia Minor, and plundered Chalcedon, Nicomedia, 
Nicea, and Prusa. This successful enterprise was 
soon followed by still more daring expeditions. 

In the year 267, another fleet, consisting of five 
hundred vessels, manned chiefly by the Goths and 
Heruls, passed the Bosphorus and the Hellespont. 
They seized Byzantium and Chrysopolis, and ad- 
vanced, plundering the islands and coasts of the 
Egean Sea, and laying waste many of the prin- 
cipal cities of the Peloponnesus. Cyzicus, Lemnos, 
Scyros, Corinth, Sparta, and Argos, are named 
as having suffered by their ravages.* From the 
time of Sylla's conquest of Athens, a period of 
nearly three hundred and fifty years had elapsed, 
during which, Attica had hardly been visited by 
the evils of war; yet when the Athenians were 

* Syncelu, Chron. 381. f lb. 382. 

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called upon to defend their homes against the 
Goths, they displayed a spirit worthy of their 
ancient fame. An officer, named Cleodamus, had 
been sent by the government from Byzantium to 
Athens, in order to repair the fortifications, some 
time before this invasion of the Heruls; but a 
division of these Goths landed at the Piraeus, and 
succeeded in carrying Athens by storm, before any 
means were taken for its defence. Dexippus, an 
Athenian of rank in the Roman service, soon con- 
trived to reassemble the garrison of the Acropolis ; 
and by joining to it such of the citizens as possessed 
some knowledge of military discipline, or some spirit 
for warlike enterprise, he formed a little army of 
two thousand men. By choosing a strong position 
in the Olive Grove, Dexippus circumscribed the 
movements of the Goths, and so harassed them by 
a close blockade, that they were soon compelled to 
abandon Athens. Cleodamus, in the meantime, 
had assembled a few ships, and obtained a naval 
victory over a division of the barbarian fleet.* These 
reverses were a prelude to the ruin of the Goths. 
A Roman fleet entered the Archipelago, and a 
Roman army, under the emperor Gallienus, marched 
into Illyricum ; the separate divisions of the Gothic 
expedition were every where overtaken by these 
forces, and destroyed in detail. During this invasion 
of the empire, one of the divisions of the Gothic 
army crossed the Hellespont into Asia, and suc- 
ceeded in plundering the cities of Troy and Ilion, 

* Zonaras, xii. 26. vol. i. p. 635. Zinkeisen (Geschichte Griechenlands) 
judiciously corrects the chronology of Zonaras, p. 59 1, note. 

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and in destroying the celebrated temple of Diana of 

Dexippus was himself the historian of the Gothic 
invasion of Attica, but unfortunately little infor- 
mation on the subject can be collected from the 
fragments of his work which now exist.* There is 
a celebrated anecdote connected with this incursion, 
which throws some light on the state of the 
Athenian population, and on the conduct of the 
Gothic invaders of the empire. The fact of its 
currency is a proof of the easy circumstances, in 
which the Athenians lived, of the literary idleness 
in which they indulged, and the general mildness 
of the assailants, whose sole object was plunder. 
It is said, that the Goths, when they had captured 
Athens, were preparing to burn the splendid libraries 
which adorned the city ; but that a Gothic soldier 
dissuaded them, by telling his countrymen that it 
was better that the Athenians should continue to 
waste their time over their books, than that they 
should begin to occupy themselves with warlike 
exercises. Gibbon, indeed, thinks the anecdote 
may be suspected as the fanciful conceit of a recent 
sophist ; and he adds, that the sagacious counsellor 
reasoned like an ignorant barbarian, f But even 
the Greeks, who repeated the anecdote, seem to 
have thought that there was more sound sense in 
the arguments of the Goth, than the great historian 
is willing to admit. The mere reading and study of 
the most learned, does not always render men wiser, 

* Corpus Scriptomm Histories Byzantince. Dexippus, Eunapics, &c. 
Bonn. 1829. 
f Decline and Fall of ike Roman Empire, i. 434. Zonaras, i. 635. 


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and generally proves injurious to their bodily activity. 
When literary pursuits, therefore, become the exclu- 
sive object of national ambition, and the abstract 
speculations of science engage the sole attention of 
the higher ranks, effeminacy is more likely to prevail, 
than when literature is used as an instrument for 
advancing practical acquirements, and embellishing 
active occupations. The rude Goths themselves 
would have admired the poetry of Homer and of 
Pindar, though they despised the metaphysical 
learning of the schools of Athens. 

The celebrity of Athens, and the presence of the 
historian Dexippus, have given to this incursion of 
the barbarians a prominent place in history; but 
many expeditions are casually mentioned, which must 
have inflicted greater losses on the Greeks, and spread 
more widely the devastation of the country. These 
inroads must have produced important changes on 
the condition of the Greek population, and given 
a new impulse to society. The passions of men 
were called into action, and the protection of their 
property often depended on their own exertions. 
Public spirit was again awakened, and many cities 
of Greece successfully defended their walls against 
the immense armies of barbarians, who broke into 
the empire in the reign of Claudius. Thessalonica 
and Cassandra were attacked by land and sea. 
Thessaly and Greece were invaded ; but the walls 
of the towns were generally found in a state of 
repair, and the inhabitants ready to defend them. 
The great victory obtained by the emperor Claudius 
II. at Naissus, broke the power of the Goths ; and 
a Roman feet in the Archipelago destroyed the 

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remains of their naval forces. The extermination 
of these invaders of Greece, was completed by the 
great plague which ravaged the East for fifteen 

During the repeated invasions of the barbarians, 
an immense number of slaves were either destroyed 
by war, or carried away by the Goths beyond the 
Danube. Great facilities were likewise afforded to 
dissatisfied slaves to escape and join the invaders. 
The numbers of the slave population in Greece 
must, therefore, have undergone a reduction, which 
could not prove otherwise than beneficial to those 
who remained, and which must also have produced 
a very considerable change on the condition of the 
poorer freemen. The danger in which men lived, 
necessitated an alteration in their mode of life ; every 
one was compelled to think of defending his person, 
as well as his property ; new activity was infused 
into society ; the losses caused by the ravages of the 
Goths, and the mortality produced by the plague, 
were soon replaced by a general improvement in the 
circumstances of the inhabitants of Greece. 

It must here be observed, that the first great 
inroads of the northern nations, which succeeded in 
penetrating into the heart of the Roman empire, 
were directed against the eastern provinces, and 
that Greece suffered severely by the earliest of the 
invasions; yet the eastern portion of the empire 
alone succeeded in driving back the barbarians, and 
preserving its population free from any admixture 
of the Gothic race. This successful resistance was 
chiefly owing to the national feelings and political 
organization of the Greek people. The institutions 

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which the Greeks retained, prevented them from 
remaining utterly hopeless in the moment of danger ; 
the magistrates possessed a legitimate authority to 
take measures for any extraordinary crisis, and 
citizens of wealth and talent could render their 
services useful, without any violent departure from 
the usual forms of the local administration * The 
evil of anarchy was not, in Greece, added to the 
misfortune of invasion. Fortunately for the Greeks, 
the insignificancy of their military forces prevented 
the national feelings, which these measures aroused, 
from giving umbrage either to the Roman emperors, 
or to their military officers in the provinces. 

From the various accounts of the Gothic wars 
of this period which exist, it is evident, that the 
expeditions of the barbarians were, as yet, only 
undertaken for the purpose of plundering the pro- 
vinces. The invaders entertained no idea of being 
able to establish themselves permanently within the 
bounds of the empire. The celerity of their move- 
ments generally made their numbers appear greater 
than they really were ; while the inferiority of their 
arms and discipline rendered them an unequal match 
for a much smaller body of the heavy-armed 
Romans. When the invaders met with a steady 
and well combined resistance, they were defeated 
without much difficulty; but whenever a moment 
of neglect presented itself, their attacks were re- 
peated with undiminished courage. The victorious 
reigns of Claudius the Second, Aurelian, and Probus, 
prove the immense superiority of the Roman armies 

* Cod. Justinianeut, viii. 9. 1 ; xi. 29. 4, and 41. 1 ; x. 41. 10. 

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when properly commanded ; but the custom, which 
was constantly gaining ground, of recruiting the 
legions from among the barbarians, reveals the 
deplorable state of depopulation and weakness to 
which three centuries of despotism and bad admini- 
stration had reduced the empire.* On the one 
hand, the government feared the spirit of its sub- 
jects, if intrusted with arms ; and on the other, it 
was unwilling to reduce the number of the citizens 
paying taxes, by draughting too large a proportion of 
the industrious classes into the army. The danger 
of revolt, and the defence of the empire, seemed to 
the Roman emperors, to demand the maintenance of 
a larger army than the population of their own 
dominions could supply. 


Foreign invasions, the disorderly state of the 
army, the weight of the taxes, and the irregular 
constitution of the imperial government, produced, 
at this time, a general feeling, that the army and the 
state required a new organization, in order to adapt 
both to the exigencies of altered circumstances, and 
save the empire from impending ruin. Probus, 
Diocletian, and Constantine, appeared as reformers 
of the Roman empire. The history of these reforms 
belongs to the records of the Roman constitution, 

* Ammia.M'S Marcellinus, xix. 2 ; xxxi. 4. 10. Spa.niieim, Orbit Roman us, 
p. 508. 

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as they were conceived with very little reference to 
the institutions of the provinces; and only some 
portion of the modifications made in the form of 
the imperial administration, will fall within the 
scope of this work. But though the administrative 
reforms produced little change in the condition 
of the Greek population, the Greeks themselves 
actively contributed to effect a mighty revolution, in 
the whole frame of social life, by the organization 
which they gave to the church, from the moment 
they began to embrace the Christian religion. It 
must not be overlooked, that the Greeks had 
organized a Christian church, before Christianity 
became the established religion of the empire. 

The reign of Constantine marks the period in 
which old Roman political feelings lost their power, 
and the superstitious veneration for Rome herself 
declines. The liberty afforded for new ideas, and a 
new social organization, was not overlooked by the 
Greeks. The transference of the seat of govern- 
ment to Byzantium, destroyed the Roman spirit in 
the public administration. The Romans, indeed, 
from the establishment of the imperial government, 
had ceased to form a homogeneous nation, or to be 
connected, by feelings of attachment and interest, to 
one common country ; and as soon as the rights of 
Roman citizenship had been conferred on the 
provincials, Rome became a mere ideal country to 
the majority of Romans. The Roman citizens, 
however, in many provinces, formed a caste of 
civilized society, dwelling among a number of ruder 
natives, and not melted into the mass of the 
population. In the Grecian provinces, no such 

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distinction prevailed. The Greeks had taken on 
themselves the name and the position of Roman 
citizens, but they retained their own language, 
manners, and institutions ; and as soon as Byzantium 
became the capital of the empire, they struggled to 
render it a Greek, and not a Latin city. 

Constantine himself does not appear to have 
perceived this tendency of the Greek population to 
acquire a predominant influence in the East, and to 
supplant the language and manners of Rome, and he 
modelled his new capital entirely after Roman ideas 
and prejudices. Constantinople was, at its foundation, 
a Roman city, and Latin was the language of the 
higher ranks of its inhabitants. This fact must not 
be lost sight of; for it affords an explanation of the 
opposition which is often apparent in the feelings, as 
well as the interests, of the capital and the Greek 
nation. Constantinople was a creation of imperial 
favour, and a regard to its own advantage rendered 
it subservient to despotism, and, for a long period, 
impervious to any national feeling. The inhabitants 
enjoyed exemptions from taxation, and received 
distributions of grain and provisions, so that the 
misery of the empire, and the desolation of the 
provinces, hardly affected them. Left at leisure to 
enjoy the games of the circus, they were bribed by 
government to pay little attention to the affairs of 
the empire. Such was the position of the people of 
Constantinople at the time of its foundation, and 
such it continued for many centuries. 

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JUSTINIAN, A. D. 330 — 527. 



The warlike frenzy of the Romans rendered the 
emperors, from commanders of the army, masters of 
the state. But the soldiers, as soon as they fully 

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comprehended the extent of their power in confer- 
ring the imperial dignity, strove to make the 
emperors their agents in the management of the 
empire, of which they considered themselves the 
real proprietors. The army was consequently the 
branch of the government, to which all the others 
were considered subordinate. The disorders com- 
mitted, and the defeats experienced, by the troops, 
at last weakened their influence, and forced the 
emperors to make various endeavours to reduce the 
army into a mere instrument of the imperial 
authority, and to destroy its power in the disposal 
of the imperial dignity. Two great measures of 
reform had been contemplated by several of the 
predecessors of Constantine. Severus had sought 
to put an end to the civil authority of the senate 
in the administration of the empire, and to efface 
the remains of the ancient political constitution. 
Diocletian had endeavoured to deprive the army of 
the power of choosing and of dethroning the sove- 
reign ; but until the reign of Constantine, the empire 
was entirely a military state, and the chief charac- 
teristic of the imperial dignity was the military 
command. Constantine first moulded the measures 
of reform of preceding emperors into a new system 
of government, and completed the political edifice 
of a new state, by remodelling the army, reconsti- 
tuting the executive power, creating a new capital, 
and adopting a new religion. Unfortunately for the 
bulk of mankind, Constantine, when he commenced 
his plan of reform, was, from his situation, uncon- 
nected with the popular or national sympathies of 
any class of his subjects, and considered this state 

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(if isolation, to be the surest basis of the imperial 
power, and the best guarantee for the impartial 
administration of justice.* 

The emperors had long ceased to regard them- 
selves as belonging to any particular country, and 
the imperial government was no longer influenced 
by any attachment to the feelings or institutions of 
ancient Rome. The glories of the republic were 
forgotten, in the constant and laborious duty of 
administering and defending the empire. New 
maxims of policy had been formed, and in cases 
where the earlier emperors would have remembered 
their feelings as citizens of Rome, as well as their 
policy as sovereigns, the wisest counsellors of 
Constantino would have calmly appealed to the 
dictates of general expediency. In the eyes of the 
emperors, that which their subjects considered as 
national, was only provincial ; and the history, 
language, and religion of Greece, Rome, Egypt, or 
Syria, were merely distinctive characteristics of 
these different portions of the empire. The emperor, 
the government, and the army, stood apart, com- 
pletely separated from the hopes, fears, and interests 
of the body of the people. Constantine organized 
the centralization of every branch of the executive 
power in the person of the emperor, and, at the same 
time, framed a bureaucracy in the administration 
of each department of public business, in order to 
guard against the effects of the incapacity or folly of 
any future sovereign. No more perfect machine of 
government appears ever to have been established ; 

* Gibbon, in his seventeenth chapter, has an admirable review of Con- 
stantine's policy. 

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and had it combined any principle capable of 
enforcing responsibility on the public servants, it 
might have proved perpetual. It is true, that 
according to the moral laws of the universe, a 
government ought to be so constituted, as to be 
conformable to the principles of truth and justice ; 
but according to the theory of expediency, it is 
sufficient for the internal security of a state, that 
its political constitution compels the government 
to act in such a manner, that the people are per- 
suaded that its conduct is dictated by a sense of 
justice. No foreign enemy ever assailed the Roman 
empire, that could not have been repulsed with 
ease, had the government and the people formed a 
united body, acting always for the general interest. 
Constantine, unfortunately, formed his govern- 
ment into a caste separate from the people, and 
thus placed it, from the very nature of man, in 
opposition to the mass of his subjects. In his 
desire to save the world from anarchy, he created 
that struggle between the administration and the 
governed, which has ever since existed, either 
actively or passively, in every country which has 
inherited the monarchical principle of imperial 
Rome; and the problem of combining efficient 
administration with constant responsibility, seems, in 
these states, still unsolved. 

A series of changes in the Roman government 
had been commenced before the time of Constantine ; 
yet the extent and durability of his reforms, and 
the distinctness of purpose with which they were 
conceived, must entitle him to rank as one of the 
greatest legislators of mankind. His defects 

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during his declining years, when his mind and body 
no longer possessed the activity necessary to inspect 
and control every detail of a despotic administra- 
tion which centred in the sovereign's person, ought 
not to alter our judgment of his numerous w r ise 
laws and judicious reforms. Few legislators have 
effected greater revolutions than Constantine. He 
transferred the despotic power of the emperor, as 
commander-in-chief of the army, to the emperor, as 
political head of the government ; and reduced the 
military power to become subservient to the civil, in 
the whole range of the administration. He con- 
solidated the dispensation of justice over the whole 
empire, by universal and systematic laws, which he 
deemed strong enough to form a bulwark for the 
people, against oppression on the part of the govern- 
ment. Feeble as this theoretic bulwark of law was 
found to be on great emergencies, it must be owned, 
that in the ordinary course of public affairs, it was 
not entirely ineffectual, and that it mainly contributed 
to prevent the decline of the Roman empire from 
proceeding with that rapidity, which has marked the 
decay of most other despotic monarchies. Constan- 
tine made a most judicious selection of a site for his 
new capital ; and he adopted a new religion, which, 
with unrivalled prudence, he rendered predominant 
under circumstances of great difficulty. His reforms 
have been supposed to have hastened the decline of 
the empire which they were intended to save ; but the 
contrary was really the case. He found the empire on 
the eve of being broken up into a number of smaller 
states, in consequence of the measures adopted by 
Diocletian to secure it against anarchy and civil 

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war. He reunited its provinces by a succession of 
brilliant military achievements; and by his subse- 
quent arrangements, he endeavoured to avert the 
recurrence of a similar danger, as far as it was 
possible, in a society which neither admitted the 
principle of hereditary succession, nor of primo- 
geniture, in the transmission of the imperial dignity. 
The permanent success of Constantine's reforms, 
depended on his financial arrangements, supplying 
ample funds for all the demands of the administra- 
tion. This fact indicates some similarity between 
the political condition of his government, and the 
present state of most European monarchies, and 
may render a close study of the errors of his financial 
arrangements not without profit to modern states- 
men. The sums required for the annual service of 
the imperial government were immense; and in 
order to levy as great an amount of revenue from 
his subjects as possible, Constantine revised the 
census of all the taxes, and carried their amount as 
high as he possibly could. Every measure was 
adopted to transfer the whole circulating medium of 
the empire annually into the coffers of the state. 
No economy or industry could enable his subjects 
to accumulate wealth ; while any accident, a fire, an 
earthquake, or a hostile incursion of the barbarians, 
might leave a whole province incapable of paying 
its taxes, and plunge it in hopeless ruin. 

In general, the outward forms of the financial 
arrangements of the empire were very little altered 
by Constantine, but he rendered the whole fiscal 
system more regular, and more stringent; and 
during no reign was the maxim of the Roman 

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government, that the cultivators of the soil were 
nothing but the instruments for feeding and clothing 
the imperial court and the army, more steadily kept 
in view.* All privileges were abolished ; the tribute, 
or land-tax, was levied on the estates of all Roman 
subjects ; and in the concessions made to the church, 
measures were usually adopted to preserve the 
rights of the fisc. A partial exemption of the 
property of the clergy was conceded by Constantine, 
in order to confer on the Christian priesthood a rank 
equal to that of the ancient patricians ; but this 
was so contrary to the principles of his legislation, 
that it was withdrawn in the reign of Constan- 
tius. Some change appears to have been made 
in the revision of the register of the empire, on 
which the land-tax was calculated. This occurred 
every fifteenth year ; and the cycle of indictions 
became, from this time, the ordinary system of 
chronological computation in use in the lower 
empire, f Constantine, it is true, passed many 
laws to protect his subjects from the oppression 
of the tax-gatherers; but the number and nature 
of these laws afford the strongest proof that the 
officers of the court, and the administration, were 
vested with powers too extensive to be used with 
moderation, and that all the vigilance of the emperor 

* Julian, Orat. ii. 92, ed. Span. 

t The period is calculated from 1st September, 312. But Ideler, Hand- 
buck der Technitche Chronologie, ii. 350, proves its existence from the year 
of Rome, 705, B. C. 49. The amount of the land-tax for the year, was fixed 
annually, and reckoned from this time. The year is termed, from the tax, 
indietio. The years were reckoned until the fifteenth, and then they com- 
menced again. Documents in which this manner of marking time is used, 
often contain no means of ascertaining the cycle, as they only mark the year 
of the indiction. 

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was required to prevent their destroying the source 
of the public revenues, by utterly ruining the tax- 
payers.* Instead of reducing the numbers of the 
imperial household, and reforming the expenses of 
the court, in order to increase the fimd available for 
the civil and military service of the state, Constan- 
tine added to the burden of an establishment which 
already included a large and useless population, by 
indulging in the most lavish ornament and sumptu- 
ous ceremonial. Nothing reveals more fully the 
state of barbarism and ignorance to- which the 
Roman world had fallen ; the sovereign sought to 
secure the admiration of his people by outward 
show; he held them incapable of judging of his 
conduct, w T hich was guided by the emergencies of 
his position. The people, no longer connected with 
the government, and knowing only what passed in 
their own province, were terrified by the magnifi- 
cence, power, and wealth, which the court displayed ; 
and, hopeless of any change for the better, they 
regarded the emperor as an agent of heaven. 

The reforms of Constantine required additional 
revenues. Two new taxes were imposed, w r hich 
were regarded as the greatest grievances of his 
reign, and frequently selected as characteristic of 
his internal policy. These taxes were termed the 
senatorial tax, and the chrysargyron. The first 
alienated the aristocracy, and the second excited the 
complaints of every class of society, for it was a tax 
on profits, levied in the severest manner on every 
species of receipts-! All the existing constitutions, 

* Ahmianus Marcellinus, xxv. 4. 
f Zosimus, ii. 38. 

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ordinary and extraordinary, and all the monopolies 
and restrictions affecting the sale of grain, were 
retained. The exactions of prior governments were 
stretched to the utmost.* All the presents and 
gifts which had usually been made to former 
superiors, were levied by Constantine as a matter of 
right, and regarded as ordinary sources of revenue. 

The municipal government of the towns and cities 
began now to be regarded as a burden rather than a 
privilege. The magistracy of the Roman muni- 
cipalities had formed an aristocratic or oligarchic 
body, in accordance with the whole fabric of the 
constitution. These magistrates had willingly borne 
all the burdens imposed on them by the state, as 
long as they could throw the ultimate load on the 
people over whom they presided. The people were 
now too poor to render the municipal charges 
profitable, and the government was compelled to 
force the wealthy citizens to accept posts in the 
local magistracy. As the community was respon- 
sible for the whole amount of the taxes, the rich 
were obliged to make good the deficiency of the 
poor, and all the members of the society were 
gradually brought down to the same level. It 
required several centuries to effect the general 
ruin ; but Constantine was strong enough to impose 
arrangements on the empire, by which the govern- 
ment was enabled to ruin the people, before a 
reduction w r ould be felt in the amount of the public 

In Greece, all the local governments existed; 

* Amm. Marcell. xvii. 3. Cod. Tktodot. xi. t. 28. 

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every municipal burden, indeed, was carefully and 
rigorously enforced by the imperial government, 
whenever it tended to relieve the imperial treasury 
from any expense ; but, at the same time, all those 
privileges which had once alleviated the pressure of 
the revenue law, in particular districts, were now 
abolished. The principle adopted by the Roman 
government, in all its relations with the people, or 
with the municipalities, was to assume, in every 
contested case, that the citizens were endeavouring 
to evade a burden which they were capable of bearing. 
This feeling at last sowed the seeds of a deep hatred 
of the imperial administration in all the subjects of 
the empire, as they saw that they were excluded 
from every hope of justice in fiscal questions.* 

The military organization of the Roman armies 
was greatly changed by Constantine ; and the change 
is peculiarly remarkable, as the barbarians were 
adopting the very principles of tactics, which the 
emperors found it necessary to abandon. The system 
of the Roman armies, in ancient times, was devised 
to make them efficient on the field of battle. As 
the Romans were always invaders, they knew well 
that they could at last force their enemies to decide 
their differences in a pitched battle. The frontiers 
of the empire required a very different method for 
their defence. The chief duty of the army was to 
occupy an extended line against an active enemy, 
far inferior in the field* The necessity of effecting 
rapid movements of the troops, in bodies varying 
continually in number, became a primary object in 

• Cod. Tkeodos. xi. t 36. 1. 6. &c. 

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the new tactics. Constantino remodelled the legions, 
by reducing the number of men to fifteen hundred ; 
and he separated the cavalry entirely from the in- 
fantry, and placed them under a different command. 
He increased the number of the light troops, insti- 
tuted new divisions in the forces, and made consider- 
able modifications in the armour and weapons of the 
Romans. The change in the form of the army was 
also rendered necessary, by the difficulty which the 
government experienced, in raising a sufficient num- 
ber of men of the class and strength necessary to 
fill the ranks of the legions, according to the old 
system. It became necessary to choose between 
diminishing the number of the troops on the frontier, 
or admit an inferior class of soldiers into the army.* 
Motives of economy, and the fear of the seditious 
spirit of the legions, also dictated several changes 
in the constitution of the forces. From this time, 
the northern nations began to prepare themselves 
for meeting the Romans in the field of battle. 

The opposition which always existed between the 
Roman government and the provincials, rendered 
any intimate connection, or community of feeling, 
between the soldiers and the people, a thing to be 
cautiously guarded against by the state. The inte- 
rests of the army required to be kept carefully 
separated from those of the citizens; and when 
Constantine, from motives of economy, withdrew 
the troops from the camps and forts on the frontiers, 
and placed them in garrison in the towns, their 
discipline was relaxed, and their license overlooked, 

• Cod. Theodot. vii. t 18. 1. 4. 

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in order to prevent them from acquiring the feelings 
of citizens.* As the barbarians were beyond the 
influence of any provincial or political sympathies, 
and were sure to be regarded as enemies by every 
class in the empire, they became the chosen troops 
of the emperors.f These favourites soon discovered 
their own importance, and behaved with as great 
insolence as the pretorian bands had ever dis- 

The necessity of preventing the possibility of a 
falling off in the revenue, was, in the eyes of the 
imperial court, of as much consequence as the main- 
tenance of the efficiency of the army. Proprietors 
of land, and citizens of wealth, were not allowed to 
enrol themselves as soldiers, lest they should escape 
from paying their taxes; and only those plebeians 
and peasants, who were not liable to the land-tax, 
were received as warriors. § It was the duty of the 
poor to serve in person, and of the rich to supply 
the revenues of the state. The effect of this was, 
that the Roman forces were often recruited with 
slaves, in spite of the laws frequently passed to 
prohibit this abuse ; and, not long after the time of 
Constantine, slaves were often admitted to enter 
the army on receiving their freedom. || The sub- 
jects of the emperors had, therefore, little to attach 
them to their government, supported by troops com- 
posed of barbarians and slaves. 

* Zosimus, ii. 34. f Amm. Marcell. xix. 11. Jib. xiv. 10 ; xv. 5. 

§ Naudet corrects Gibbon's opinion, (iii. 65,) that * every proprietor was 
obliged either to take up arms, or to procure a substitute, or purchase his 
exemption by the payment of a heavy fine." — Sur Us changemens dans V ad- 
ministration de V Empire Roma in, ii. 175. 

II Cod. Thtod. vii. i. 18. 1. 4. Cod. Just. vii. t. 13. 1. 4. Novell. 81. 

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The general system of Constantine's government 
was by no means favourable to the advancement of 
the Greeks as a national body. His new division of 
the empire into four prefectories was so combined, as 
to neutralize, by administrative arrangements, any 
influence that the Greeks might acquire, from the 
union which their language and manners naturally 
produced in a large portion of the population. 
The four prefectures of the empire were, the 
Orient, Illyria, Italy, and Gaul, and a pretorian 
prefect directed the civil administration of each of 
these great divisions of the empire. The prefec- 
tures were divided into governments, and these 
governments were again subdivided into provinces. 
The prefecture of the Orient embraced five govern- 
ments ; the first was called by the name of the 
prefecture, the Orient; the others were Egypt, 
Asia, Pontus, and Thrace. In all these, the Greeks 
formed only a section of the population, and their 
influence was controlled by the adverse prejudices 
and interests of the natives. The prefecture of 
Illyria consisted of two governments, — Macedonia 
and Dacia. Macedonia included six provinces, — 
Achaea, Macedonia, Crete, Thessaly, Old Epirus, 
and New Epirus; and in all these the population 
was almost entirely Greek. In Dacia, or the 
provinces between the Danube and Mount Hsemus, 
the Adriatic, and the Black Sea, the civilized 
portion of the inhabitants was more imbued 

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with the language and prejudices of Rome than of 

The Greek population of the East had been losing 
ground since the reign of Hadrian. Pescennius 
Niger had shewn, that the national feelings of the 
East might be roused against the oppression of 
Rome, without adopting Hellenic prejudices. The 
establishment of the kingdom of Palmyra by Odena- 
thus, and the conquest of Syria and Egypt, gave a 
severe blow to the influence of the Greeks in these 
countries. Zenobia, it is true, cultivated Greek 
literature, but she spoke Syriac and Coptic with 
equal fluency. Her armies were composed of Syrians 
and Saracens; and in the civil administration, the 
natives of each province would be raised to an equal 
rank with the Greeks. The cause of the Greek 
population, especially in Syria and Egypt, became 
more closely connected with the declining power of 
Rome ; and as early as the reign of Aurelian, 
immediately after he had conquered Zenobia, an 
attempt was made, by a portion of the native popu- 
lation in Egypt, to throw off the Roman and Greek 
yoke. The rebellion of Firmus is almost neglected 
in the history of the numerous rival emperors who 
were subdued by Aurelian ; but the very fact that 
he was styled by his conqueror a robber, and not a 
rival, shews that his cause made him a more serious 
and deadly enemy .f 

These signs of nationality could not be over- 
looked, and the political organization of the empire 
was rendered more efficient than it had formerly 

* Notitia dignitatem Imperii Ifomani. 
t Vopiscus. Probus. 

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been, to crush the smallest manifestations of national 
feeling among any body of its subjects. On the 
other hand, nothing was done by Constantine with 
the direct view of improving the condition of the 
Greeks. Two of his laws have been much praised 
for their humanity; but they really afford the 
strongest proofs of the miserable condition, to which 
the inhumanity of the government had reduced the 
people; and though these laws, doubtless, granted 
some relief to Greece, they originated in views of 
general policy. By the one, the collectors of the 
revenue were prohibited, under pain of death, to 
seize the slaves, cattle, and instruments of agricul- 
ture, of the farmer, for the payment of his taxes ; 
* and, by the other, all forced labour, at public works, 
was ordered to be suspended during seed-time and 
harvest.* The agriculture and commerce of Greece 
had derived some advantage, from the tranquillity 
which the country had enjoyed during the wide 
spread civil wars, which preceded the reigns of Dio- 
cletian and Constantine. As far as the imperial 
government was concerned, commerce was burdened 
by the old spirit of neglect and monopoly. The 
officers of the palace, and even the Christian clergy, 
were allowed to carry merchandize from one pro- 
vince to another, free from the duties which fell 
heavily on the regular trader.f It was not, indeed, 
until the reign of Valentinian the Third, that the 
clergy were finally prohibited from engaging in 
commerce.^ The emperor was, himself, both a 
merchant and manufacturer; and his commercial 

* Cod. Tkeodos. 11. 30. 1. Cod. Just. viii. 17. 7 ; xi. 47. 1. 
+ Cod. Theodos. xvi. 2. 7. t A.D. 452. Novell, lib. ii. 12. 

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operations contributed materially to impoverish his 
subjects, and to destroy all the internal trade of 
his dominions. The imperial household formed a 
numerous population, separated from the other 
subjects of the empire; and the imperial officers 
purchased whatever was required for this immense 
establishment, even in the most distant markets. 
The public posts furnished the means of transport- 
ing this merchandize free of expense, and the 
officers charged with its conveyance would avail 
themselves of this opportunity to enrich themselves, 
by importing whatever they could sell with profit. 
Imperial manufactories supplied those goods which 
could be produced in the empire ; and there can be 
little doubt, that private manufacturers would 
seldom venture to furnish the same articles, lest 
their trade should interfere with the secret sources 
of profit of some powerful officer. These facts 
sufficiently explain the rapid decline in the general 
wealth of the population of the Roman empire, 
which followed the transference of the capital to 
Constantinople. Yet, while commerce was thus 
ruined, the humble and honest occupation of the 
shopkeeper was treated as a dishonourable profes- 
sion, and his condition was rendered doubly con- 
temptible, by restrictions which compelled him to 
remain in poverty. He was not allowed to travel 
with more than one thousand folles, under pain of 
exile.* This singular law must have been adopted, 
partly to secure the monopolies of the importing 

* 24 folles = 1 millarcsion of sixty to the pound of silver. Dureau de la 
Malle, Economic Politique des Romain*, i. 118. Naudet, ii. 119. 

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merchants, and partly as a preventive of robbery 
in the disorganized state of the provinces. 

Though the change of the capital from Rome to 
Constantinople produced many modifications in the 
government, its influence on the Greek population 
was much less than one might have expected. 
The new city was an exact copy of old Rome. Its 
institutions, manners, interests, and language, were 
Roman; and it inherited all the isolation of the 
old capital, and stood in direct opposition to the 
Greeks, and all the provincials. It was inhabited 
by senators from Rome. Wealthy individuals 
from the provinces were, likewise, compelled to 
keep up houses at Constantinople, pensions were 
conferred upon them, and a right to distributions 
of provisions, to a considerable amount, was annexed 
to these dwellings. These rations consisted of 
bread, oil, wine, and meat, and formed an impor- 
tant branch of revenue, even to the better class of 
the citizens. These distributions were entirely dif- 
ferent from the public ones at Rome, which were 
established, as a gratification, by the state, to the 
poor citizens who had no other means of livelihood.* 
The tribute of grain from Egypt was appropriated 
to supply Constantinople, and that of Africa was 

* There is some difficulty in fixing the exact amount of the distribution 
even of grain at Constantinople. Gibbon says 80,000 rations daily ; but 
Constantino annually destined 85,000 measures, doubtless, medimni. Six 
modii made a medimnus, and five modii were the monthly allowance at 
Rome. This would only give 8,500 rations of this low class. Theodosius 
added 125 modii a-day, or 750 rations to the above. This Beems too little 
for the aristocratic nature of the Constantinopolitan privilege. Compare 
Gibbon, vol. iii. 27. c. xvii. note, and Naudet, De$ secours publics chez It* 
Bomaint, p. 48, in the Memoir e* de VAcadimie det Inscriptions, T. xiii. and 
the authorities they refer to. 

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left for the consumption of Rome. We here dis- 
cover the tie which bound the new capital to the' 
cause of the emperors, and an explanation of the 
toleration shewn by these to the factions of the 
circus, and the disorders of the populace. The 
emperor, and the inhabitants of the capital, felt, 
that they had a common interest in supporting the 
despotic power by which the provinces were drained 
of money, to support the luxurious expenditure of 
the court, and to supply provisions and amusements 
for the people; and, consequently, the tumults of 
the populace never induced the emperors to weaken 
the influence of the capital ; nor did the tyranny of 
the emperors ever induce the citizens of the capital 
to demand the systematic circumscription of the 
imperial authority. 

Even the change of religion produced very little 
improvement in the imperial government. The old 
evils of Roman tyranny were perpetrated under a 
more regular and legal despotism, and a purer 
religion, but they were not less generally oppressive. 
The government grew daily weaker as the people 
grew poorer; the population rapidly diminished, 
and the frame-work of society became gradually 
disorganized. The regularity of the details of the 
administration rendered it more burdensome ; the 
obedience enforced in the army had only been 
obtained by the deterioration of its discipline. The 
barrier which the empire opposed to the ravages of 
the barbarians, became, consequently, weaker under 
each succeeding emperor. 

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The decline of the national influence of the 
Romans, and of the supremacy of the Roman 
government, had brought about some favourable con- 
junctures for the Greeks to improve their condition. 
Christianity connected itself with the social organi- 
zation of the people, without meddling with their 
political condition ; but, in so doing, it every where 
awakened the national feelings of mankind, and 
soon produced some improvement in the political, 
as well as in the moral and religious, position of the 
Greeks. Though Christianity failed to save the 
Roman empire from decline, it reinvigorated the 
popular mind, and reorganized the people, by giving 
them a powerful and permanent object on which to 
concentrate their attention. As it long communi- 
cated only with the middling classes of society, it 
was compelled, in every different province of the 
empire, to assume the language and usages of the 
locality, and thus it was enabled to combine indi- 
vidual attachment with universal power. It must 
be observed, that a great change took place from 
the period that Constantine formed a political 
alliance with the church as a corporate body. The 
great benefits which the inhabitants of the Roman 
empire had derived from the organization of the 
Christian teachers and ministers, as being in connec- 
tion with national feelings, was then neutralized. The 
church became a political institution of the Roman 

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empire; the Christian religion alone remained a 
national doctrine. 

Paganism had undergone a great change about 
the time of the establishment of the Roman empire. 
A belief in the resurrection of the body had begun 
to spread, both among the Romans and the Greeks ; 
and it is to the prevalence of this belief, that the 
great success of the worship of Serapis, and the 
adoption of the practice of burying the dead in a 
sarcophagus of marble, instead of burning it on a 
funeral pile, are to be attributed.* The decline of 
paganism had proceeded far, before Christianity was 
adopted by the Greeks. The ignorance of the 
people, on the one hand, and the speculations of 
the philosophers on the other, tended to destroy 
paganism; for it rested more on mythological and 
historical recollections, and on associations derived 
from, and connected with, art, than on any moral 
principle or mental conviction. The paganism of 
the Greeks was a worship identified with particular 
tribes of citizens, and with precise localities; and 
the want of this local and material union had been 
constantly felt by the Greeks of Asia and Alex- 
andria, and had tended much to introduce those 
modifications in the national faith, by which the 
Alexandrine philosophers attempted to unite it with 
their metaphysical views. But a religion which 
could deify Caligula, Nero, Domitian, and Corn- 
modus, must have fallen into contempt with the 
people ; and even those who believed in its claims 

* Serapis was the god of futurity, and the judge of the dead. Visconti has 
shewn that the practice of burial had commenced in the time of Augustus. 
Muteo, Pio Cltm. T. v. 10. 

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to divine authority, must have regarded it with 
hatred, as having formed an unjust alliance with 
their tyrants. It is not, therefore, surprising, that a 
disbelief in the gods of the empire was general, 
among the people throughout the East. But it 
is impossible for man to exist in society without 
some religious feeling. The worship of the gods 
was therefore immediately replaced by a number 
of superstitious practices, borrowed from foreign 
nations, or by the revival of the traditions of a 
ruder period, relating to an inferior class of spirits. 

The wealth of the temples in Greece, and the large 
funds appropriated to public feasts and religious 
ceremonies, long ensured an appearance of devotion ; 
but a considerable portion of these funds began to 
be enjoyed as the private fortunes of the hereditary 
priests, or were diverted, by the corporations charged 
with their administration, from their intended use, 
for other purposes than the service of the temples, 
without these changes exciting any complaints. 
The progressive decline of the ancient religion is 
marked by the numerous laws which the emperors 
were compelled to pass against secret divination, 
and the rites of magicians, diviners, and astrologers. 
These modes of prying into futurity had always 
been regarded by the Romans and the Greeks as 
impious, and hostile to the religion of the state.* 
The contempt of the Greeks, especially, for the 
ancient religion, was shewn by their general 
indifference to the rites of sacrifice, and to the 

* Bonamt, Du rapport de la magie avec la thiologie Paienne. Mimoires de 
P Academic des Inscriptions, vii. 25. Suetonius, Tiber, c. 63. Cod. Theodos. 
ix. 16. 

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ceremonials of their festivals. While the great 
struggle with Christianity was openly carried on, 
this was peculiarly remarkable. The emperor 
Julian often complains, in his works, of this indif- 
ference, and gives rather a ludicrous instance of its 
extent in an anecdote which happened to himself. 
As emperor and pontifex maximus, he repaired to 
the temple of Apollo at Daphne, near Antioch, on 
the day of the great feast. He declares, that he 
expected to see the temple filled with sacrifices, but 
he found not even a cake, nor a grain of incense ; 
and the god would have been without an offering, 
had the priest himself not brought a goose, the only 
victim which Apollo received on the day of his festival. 
Julian proves by this anecdote, that all the popu- 
lation of Antioch was Christian, otherwise curiosity 
would have induced a few to visit the temple.* 

The laws of the moral world prevent any great 
reformation in society from being effected, without 
the production of some positive evil. Many of the 
best feelings of humanity are often awakened in 
support of very questionable institutions ; and all 
opinions hallowed by the lapse of time, become so 
endeared by old recollections, that the most self- 
evident truths are frequently overlooked, and the 
greatest benefits to the mass of mankind are 
peremptorily rejected, when their first announcement 
attacks an existing prejudice. No principles of 
political wisdom, and no regulations of human 

* Even at Athens paganism had ceased to be publicly practised before 
Julian ascended the throne. Libanius, in Julian, necem, p. 288. ed MorelL 
The contending influence of Christianity and paganism on the municipal 
authorities of the Greek cities, might perhaps be illustrated by careful study. 

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prudence, could, therefore, have averted the many 
evils which attended the change of the religion of 
the Roman empire, even though the change was 
from fable to truth, from paganism to Christianity. 

The steady progress which Christianity made 
against paganism, and the deep impression it 
produced on the middling classes of society, and on 
the votaries of philosophy, are certainly wonderful, 
when the weight of prejudice, the wealth of the 
temples, the pride of the schoolmen, and the 
influence of college endowments, are taken into 
consideration. Throughout the East, the educated 
Greeks, from a peculiar disposition of mind, were 
easily led to grant an attentive hearing to the pro- 
mulgators of new doctrines and systems. Even at 
Athens, Paul was listened to with great respect by 
many of the philosophers ; and after his public ora- 
tion to the Athenians at the Areopagus, some said, 
" We will hear thee again of this matter." A 
belief, that the principle of unity, both in politics 
and religion, must, from its simplicity and truth, 
lead to perfection, was an error of the human mind 
extremely prevalent at the time that Christianity 
was first preached. That one according spirit might 
be traced in the universe, and that there was one 
God, the Father of all, was a very prevalent doc- 
trine.* This tendency towards despotism in politics, 
and deism in religion, is a feature of the human 

• Maximus Ttrius, Diss. xvii. Quarterly Review, July, 1840. Alex- 
andria and the Alexandrines. The analogy which it was supposed ought to 
exist between the government of earth and heaven, induced the army, at a 
later period, to demand that the imperial power should be vested in three 
emperors, in order that the trinity might be represented. Constantine 
(Pogonatus) iv. 

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mind which continually reappears in certain condi- 
tions of society, and corruptions of civilization. At 
the same time, a very general dissatisfaction was 
felt at these conclusions; and the desire of esta- 
blishing the principle of man's responsibility, and his 
connection with another state of existence, seemed 
hardly compatible with the unity of the divine 
essence adored by the philosophers. 

Under these circumstances, Christianity could 
not fail of making numerous converts. It boldly 
announced the full bearing of truths, of which the 
Greek philosophers had only afforded a dim glimpse ; 
and it distinctly contradicted many of the favourite 
dreams of the national, but falling, faith of Greece. 
It required either to be rejected or adopted. Among 
the Greeks, therefore, Christianity met every where 
with a curious and attentive audience. The feelings 
of the public mind were dormant ; Christianity 
opened the sources of eloquence, and revived the 
influence of popular opinion. From the moment a 
people, in the state of intellectual civilization in 
which the Greeks were, could listen to the preachers, 
it was certain they would adopt the religion. They 
might alter, modify, or corrupt it, but it was impos- 
sible that they should reject it. The existence of 
an assembly, in which the dearest interests of all 
human beings were expounded and discussed in 
the language of truth, and with the most earnest 
expressions of persuasion, must have lent an irre- 
sistible charm to the investigation of the new 
doctrine, among a people possessing the institutions 
and feelings of the Greeks. Sincerity, truth, and a 
desire to persuade others, will soon create eloquence 

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where numbers are gathered together. Christianity 
revived oratory, and with oratory it awakened many of 
the national characteristics which had slept for ages. 
The discussions of Christianity gave also new vigour 
to the communal and municipal institutions, as it 
improved the intellectual qualities of the people. 

The demoralization of society prevalent through- 
out the world has been noticed, and its injurious 
effect on the position of the Greek females, must 
have long been seriously felt by every Grecian 
mother. The educated females in Greece, there- 
fore, naturally welcomed the pure morality of the 
Gospel without hesitation, and, to their exertions, 
the rapid conversion of the middling orders must in 
some degree be attributed. Female influence must 
not be overlooked, if we would form a just estimate 
of the change produced in society, by the conversion 
of the Greeks to Christianity. 

The effect of Christianity soon extended to 
political society, and the secret of this is to be 
sought in the manner in which it enforced the 
observance of the moral duties, on every rank of men 
without distinction, and the way in which it called 
in the aid of public opinion, to enforce that self- 
respect, which a sense of responsibility is sure to 
nourish. This political influence of Christianity soon 
displayed itself among the Greeks. They had 
always been deeply imbued with a feeling of equality, 
and their condition, after their conquest by the 
Romans, had impressed on them the necessity of a 
moral code, to which superiors and inferiors, rulers 
and subjects, were both equally amenable. The 
very circumstances, however, which gave Christi- 

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anity peculiar attractions for the Greeks, excited a 
feeling of suspicion among the Roman official 
authorities. Considering, indeed, the manner in 
which the Christians formed themselves into separate 
congregations, in all the cities and towns of the 
East, the constituted form which they gave to their 
own society, entirely independent of the civil 
authority in the state, the high moral character, and 
the popular talents, of many of their leaders, it is not 
wonderful, that the Roman emperors should have 
conceived some alarm at the increase of the new 
sect, and deemed it necessary to exterminate it by 
persecution. Until the government of the empire 
was prepared to adopt the tenets of Christianity, 
and identify itself with the Christian population, it 
was not unnatural that the Christians should be 
Regarded as a separate, and consequently, inimical 
class ; for it must be confessed, that the bonds of 
their political society were too powerful, to allow 
any government to remain at ease. Let us, for a 
moment, form a picture of the events which must 
have been of daily occurrence in the cities of Greece. 
A Christian merchant arriving at Argos or Sparta, 
would soon excite attention in the agora and the 
lesche. His opinions would be examined and con* 
troverted* Eloquence and knowledge were by no 
means rare gifts among the traders of Greece, from 
the time of Solon, the oil merchant. The discussions 
which had been commenced in the markets, would 
penetrate into the municipal councils* The smaller 
states would be roused to an unwonted energy, and 
the Roman governors astonished and alarmed. 

It was, undoubtedly, the power of the Christians, 


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as a political body, which excited several of the 
persecutions against them ; and the accusation to 
which they w ? ere subjected, of being the enemies of 
the human race, was caused by their enforcing 
general principles of humanity, at variance with the 
despotic maxims of the Roman government. When 
the cry of popular hatred was once excited, accusations 
of promiscuous profligacy, and of devouring human 
sacrifices, w r ere the calumnious additions, in accor- 
dance with the credulity of the age.* The first act 
of legal toleration which the Christians met with 
from the Roman government, was conceded to their 
power as a political party, by Maxcntius.f They were 
persecuted and tolerated by Maximin, according to 
what he conceived to be the dictates of his interest 
for the time. Constantine, who had long acted as 
the leader of their political party, at last seated 
Christianity on the throne, and, by his prudence, the 
world for many years enjoyed the happiness of 
religious toleration 4 

From the moment Christianity was adopted by 
the Hellenic race, it was so identified with the 
habits of the people, as to become essentially incor- 
porated with the subsequent history of the nation. 
The earliest corporations of Greek Christians were 
united in distinct bodies, by civil as well as by 
religious ties. The members of each congregation 
assembled not only for divine worship, but also 
when any subject of general interest required their 

* Epulse Thyesteee, promiscmis concubitus, odium generis human! . 
t Eusebius, Hist. EccUs. viii. c 14 ; ix. c. 9. 

X Tzschirner, Dcr Fall des Ileidenthum*, Leip. 1829. Beuonot, Hittoire 
de la Destruction du Paganismc en Occident, 2 vols. Paris, 1835. 

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opinion or decision : and the everyday business of the 
community was intrusted to their spiritual teachers, 
and to the most influential individuals in the society, 
formally or tacitly elected by their brethren. It is 
impossible to determine, exactly, the limits of the 
authority of the clergy and the elders, in the various 
Christian communities, during the first century. As 
there was usually a perfect concord on every subject, 
precise regulations, either to settle the bounds of 
clerical authority, or the form of administering the 
business of the society, could not be considered 
necessary. It cannot, indeed, be supposed, that one 
uniform course of proceeding was adopted, for the 
internal government of all the Christian communities 
throughout the world. Such a thing would have 
been too much at variance with the habits of the 
Greeks, and the nature of the Roman empire, 
Circumstances must have rendered the government 
of the Christian churches, in some parts of the East, 
strictly monarchical ; while, in the municipalities of 
Greece, it would certainly appear more for the 
spiritual interests of religion, that even the doctrines 
of the society should be discussed according to the 
forms used in transacting the public business of 
these little autonomous states. Such differences 
would excite no attention among the cotemporary 
members of the respective churches, for both would 
be regarded as equally conformable to the spirit of 
Christianity. Precise laws and regulations, usually 
originate in the necessity of preventing definite evils, 
so that principles of action operate as guides to 
conduct, and exert a practical influence on the lives 

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of thousands, for years before they become embodied 
in public enactments. 

The most distant communities of Christian Greeks 
in the East were connected by the closest bonds of 
union, not only for spiritual purposes, but also on 
account of the mutual protection and assistance 
which they were called upon to afford one another, 
in the days of persecution. The progress of Chris- 
tianity among the Greeks was so rapid, that they 
soon surpassed in numbers, wealth, and influence, 
any other body separated, by peculiar usages, from 
the mass of the population of the Roman empire. 
The Greek language became the ordinary medium 
of communication on ecclesiastical affairs in the 
East; and the Christian communities of Greeks 
were gradually melted into one nation, having a 
common civil administration in some things, as well 
as a common religion. Their ecclesiastical govern- 
ment thus acquired a moral force, which rendered 
it superior to the local authorities, and which at last 
rivalled the influence of the political administration 
of the empire. The Greek church had grown up to 
be almost equal in power to the Roman state, before 
Constantine determined to unite the two in strict 

This power had received a regular organization 
as early as the second century. Deputies, from the 
different congregations in Greece, met together at 
stated intervals and places, and formed provincial 
synods, which replaced the Achaean, Phocic, Boeotic> 
and Amphyctionic assemblies of former days.* How 

* Tebtullian, Lejejun. p. 650, Paris, 1580. Eusebius, Hist. Ecclet. v. 16. 

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these assemblies were composed, what part the 
people took in the election of the clerical deputies, 
and what rights the laity possessed in the provincial 
councils, are points which have been much disputed, 
and do not yet seem to be very accurately deter- 
mined. The people, the lay elders, and the clergy 
or spiritual teachers, were the component parts of 
each separate community, in the earliest periods.* 
The numbers of the Christians soon required that 
several congregations should be formed in a single 
city; these congregations sought to maintain a 
constant communication, in order to secure perfect 
unanimity. Deputies were appointed to meet for 
this purpose ; and the most distinguished and ablest 
members of the clergy naturally became the presi- 
dents of these assemblies. These were the bishops, 
who soon became charged with the conduct of all 
public business during the intervals between the 
meetings of the deputies. The superior education 
and character of the bishops placed the greater part 
of the civil business of the community in their 
hands ; the ecclesiastical then appeared their peculiar 
province by right ; and, as they possessed the fullest 
confidence of their flocks, and as no fear was then 
entertained that the power intrusted to these disin- 
terested and pious men could ever be abused, their 
authority was never called in question. 

The political organization and influence of the 
Christian communities could not fail to arrest the 
attention of the Roman authorities, from the time 
the provincial synods replaced, in the popular mind, 

* Acts of the Apostles, vi. 2 ; xv. 

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the older national institutions ; and, in a short time, 
the power of the patriarchs of Antioch and Alex- 
andria excited the jealousy of the emperors them- 
selves. The monarchical ideas of the eastern Greeks 
vested extensive authority in the hands of their 
bishops and patriarchs; and their power excited 
more alarm in the Roman government, than the 
municipal forms of conducting ecclesiastical business, 
which were adopted by the natives of Greece, in 
accordance with the civil constitutions of the Greek 
cities and states. This fact became evident from an 
examination of the list of the martyrs who perished 
in the persecutions of the third century, when poli- 
tical alarm, rather than religious zeal, moved the 
government to acts of cruelty. While numbers 
were murdered in Antioch, Alexandria, Caesarea, 
Smyrna, and Thessalonica, but very few were sacri- 
ficed at Corinth, Athens, Patras, and Nicopolis.* 

Christianity long formed a confederation of com- 
munities in the heart of the eastern portion of the 
Roman empire, openly regarding with hatred some 
of the political maxims of the state. The power of 
Christianity exercised some influence, in determining 
Constantine to transfer his capital into that part of 
his dominions, where so numerous and powerful a 
body of his subjects were attached to his person and 
his cause. Both Constantine and the Christians had 
their own grounds of hostility to Rome and the 
Romans. The senate and the Roman nobility 
remained firmly attached to paganism, which was, 
indeed, converted into the bond of union of the con- 

* Menologium Grcecorum jatsu Basil ii Imp. cditum, Urbini, 1727. Fall- 

ME&AYEB,i. 110. ZlNKEISEN, 604. 

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servative party, in the western portion of the empire, 
and thus the Greeks were enabled to secure a pre- 
dominancy in the Christian church. The imperial 
prejudices of Constantine appear to have concealed 
from him this fact; and he seems never to have 
perceived, that the cause of the Christian church and 
the Greek nation were already closely interwoven, 
unless his inclination to Arianism, in his latter days, 
is to be attributed to a wish to suppress the national 
spirit, which began to display itself in the Eastern 
church. The policy of circumscribing the power of 
orthodoxy, as too closely connected with national 
feelings, was more openly followed by Constantius. 

The numbers of the Christians in the Roman 
empire, at the time of the first general council of the 
Christian church at Nice, is a subject of great 
importance towards affording a just estimation of 
many historical facts. If the conjecture be correct, 
that the Christians, at the time of Constantino's 
conversion, hardly amounted to a twelfth, and per- 
haps did not exceed a twentieth part of the popula- 
tion of the empire, this would certainly afford the 
strongest proof of the admirable civil organization 
by which they were united * But this can hardly 
be considered possible, when applied to the eastern 
provinces of the empire, and is certainly incorrect, 
with regard to the Greek cities. It seems esta- 
blished by the rescript of Maximin, and by the 
testimony of the martyr Lucianus, — supported as 
these are by a mass of collateral evidence, — 
that the Christians formed, throughout the East, 
the majority of the middling classes of Greek 

* Labastie, Ame. Memoir e $ur It Souvcrain Pontificat da Empcreurt 
Remains. Mem. dt VAcad. da Imcrip. xv. 77. 

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society. * Still history affords few facts which 
supply a fair criterion, to estimate the numbers, 
or strength, of either the Christian or pagan 
population generally, throughout the empire. The 
imperial authority, supported by the army, which was 
equally destitute of religion and nationality, was 
powerful enough to oppress or persecute either 
party, according to the personal disposition of the 
emperor. There were Christians who endeavoured 
to excite Constantius to persecute the pagans, and 
to seize the wealth which their temples contained.! 
Constantine had found himself strong enough to 
carry off the gold and silver statues and ornaments 
from many temples ; but, as this was done with the 
sanction and assistance of the Christian population 
where it occurred, it seems probable, that it only 
happened in those places where the whole commu- 
nity, or at least the corporation possessing the legal 
control over the temporal concerns of these, had 
embraced Christianity.:): In any other case, the fact 
would be too strongly at variance with the systematic 
toleration of Constantine's reign. 

The pagan Julian was strongly incited to per- 
secute the Christians by the more fanatical of the 
pagans; nor did he himself ever appear to doubt, 
that his power was sufficient to have commenced a 
persecution; and, consequently, he takes credit to 
himself, in his writings, for the principles of tolera- 
tion which he adopted.^ The attempt of Julian to 

* Milman, however, doubts the fact of the Christiana forming a majority 
of the population in the East — History of Christianity, vol. ii. p. 21, Paris ed. 

t Beugnot, i. 149. Z Eusebius, Laud. Const, c. 8. 

§ Juliani, Epist. 41, p. 98. Beugnot gives a clear and fair view of the 
tolerant policy of Julian's reign. — Histoire de la Destruction du Paganisms en 

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re-establish paganism was, however, a very unstates- 
manlike proceeding, and exhibited the strongest 
proof of the rapidly approaching dissolution of the 
old religion. Julian was an enthusiast ; and he was 
so far carried away by his ardour, as to desire the 
restoration of ceremonies and usages long consigned 
to oblivion, and ridiculous in the eyes of his pagan 
contemporaries. In the East, he accelerated the ruin 
of the cause which he espoused. His own acquain- 
tance with paganism had been gained chiefly from 
books, and from the lessons of philosophers ; for he 
had long been compelled to conform to Christianity, 
and to acquire his knowledge of paganism only by 
stealth. When he acted the Pontifex Maximus, 
according to the written instructions of the old 
ceremonial, he was looked upon as the pedantic 
reviver of an antiquated ceremony. The religion, 
too, which he had studied, was that of the ancient 
Greeks, — a system of belief which had irrevocably 
passed away. With the conservative pagan party 
of Rome, he never formed any alliance. The fancy 
of Julian to restore Hellenism, and to call himself a 
Greek, was, therefore, regarded by all parties in the 
empire as an imperial folly. Nothing but princely 
ignorance of the state of opinion, in his age, could 
have induced Julian to endeavour to awaken the 
national feelings of the Greeks in favour of pagan- 
ism, in order to oppose them to Christianity, for 
their nationality was now engaged in the Christian 
cause. This mistaken notion of the emperor was 
seen by the Romans, and made a strong impression 
on the historians of Julian's reign. They have all 
condemned his superstition ; for such, in their eyes, 

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his fanatic imitation of antiquated Hellenic usages 
appeared to be.* 


When Constantine embraced Christianity, he 
allowed paganism to remain the established religion 
of the state, and left the pagans in the possession of 
all their privileges. The principle of toleration was 
received as a political maxim of the Roman govern- 
ment, and it continued, with little interruption, to 
be so, until the reign of Theodosius the Great, who 
undertook to abolish paganism by legislative enact- 
ments. The Christian emperors continued, until 
the reign of Gratian, to bear the title of Pontifex 
Maximus, and to act as the political head of the 
pagan religion. This political supremacy of the 
emperor over the pagan priesthood, was applied also 
to the Christian church ; and in the reign of Con- 
stantine, the imperial power over the external and 
civil affairs of the church was fully admitted by the 
whole Christian clergy. The respect which Constan- 
tine shewed to the ministers of Christianity, never 
induced him to overlook this supremacy. Even in 
the general council of Nice, the assembled clergy 
would not proceed to transact any business until 
the emperor had taken his seat, and authorized 
them to proceed. All Constantine's grants to the 
church were regarded as marks of imperial favour ; 

* Amiiianus Marc exlin us, xxv. 4. Aurelius Victor. EpU. Eutropius. 

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and he considered himself entitled to resume them, 
and transfer them to the Arians. During the 
Arian reigns of Constantius and Valens, the power 
of the state over the church was still more mani- 

From the death of Constantine, until the acces- 
sion of Theodosius the Great, a period of thirty 
years elapsed, during which Christianity, though the 
religion of the emperors, and of a numerous body of 
their subjects, was not the established religion of 
the state. In the western provinces, paganism was 
still predominant; and even in those which had 
embraced Christianity, the Christian party was 
weakened by being divided into rival sects. The 
Arians and orthodox regarded one another with 
almost as much hostility as they did the pagans. 
During this period, the orthodox clergy were 
placed in a state of probation, which powerfully 
contributed towards connecting their interests 
and feelings with those of the Greek population. 
Constantine had determined to organize the Chris- 
tian church, within the bounds of the Roman 
empire, precisely in the same manner as the civil 
government. The object of this arrangement, was 
to render the church completely subservient to the 
imperial administration, and to break, as much as 
possible, its connection with the people. For this 
purpose, the higher ecclesiastical charges were 
rendered independent of public opinion. The 
wealth and temporal power, which the clergy 
suddenly attained by the favour of Constantine, 

* Eusbbius, Ik vita ConttatU. Mag. iv. 24. 

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soon produced the usual effects of sudden riches 
and irresponsible authority, in corrupting the minds 
of men. The disputes relating to the Arian heresy 
were imbittered by the eagerness of the clergy to 
possess the richest episcopal sees ; and their con- 
flicts became so scandalous, that they were rendered 
a subject of popular satire in places of public 
amusement.* The favour shewn by the Arian 
emperors to their own party, proved ultimately 
beneficial to the orthodox clergy. The Roman 
empire was still nominally pagan, the Roman 
emperors were avowedly Arian, and the Greeks 
felt little disposed to sympathize with the tradi- 
tional superstitions of their conquerors, or the per- 
sonal opinions of their masters. During this period, 
therefore, they listened with redoubled attention to 
the doctrines of the orthodox clergy, and from this 
time the Greek nation, and the orthodox church, 
became closely identified. 

The orthodox teachers of the Gospel, driven from 
the ecclesiastical preferments which depended on 
court favour, and deserted by the ambitious and 
worldly-minded clergy, cultivated those virtues, and 
pursued that line of conduct, which had endeared 
the earlier preachers of Christianity to their flocks. 
The old popular organization of the church was 
preserved, and more completely amalgamated with 
the municipal and communal constitution of the 
Greek nation. The people took part in the election 
of their spiritual pastors, and influenced the choice 
of their bishops. The national, as well as the 

* Eusebius, Dt vita Constant. Mag. 1. ii. 61. 

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religious, sentiments of the Greeks, were called 
into action, and provincial synods were held for the 
purpose of defending the orthodox priesthood 
against the imperial and Arian administration. 
The majority of the orthodox congregations were 
Greek, and Greek was the language of the ortho- 
dox clergy. Latin was the language of the court 
and of the heretics. Many circumstances, therefore, 
combined to consolidate the connection formed, at 
this time, between the orthodox church, and the 
Greek population, throughout the eastern provinces 
of the empire; while some of these circumstances 
tended more particularly to connect the clergy with 
the educated Greeks, and to give to the orthodox 
church the character of a national institution. 

In ancient Hellas and the Peloponnesus, paganism 
was still far from being extinct, or, at least, as 
was not unfrequently the case, the people, without 
caring much about the ancient religion, persisted 
in celebrating, with some enthusiasm, the rites and 
festivals consecrated by antiquity.* Valentinian 
and VaJens renewed the laws which had been 
often passed against various pagan rites ; and both 
of these emperors encouraged the persecution of 
those who were accused of this imaginary crime. 
It must be observed, however, that these accusa- 
tions were generally directed against wealthy 
individuals ; and, on the whole, they appear to have 
been dictated by the old imperial maxim of filling 
the treasury by confiscations, rather than risking the 
imposition of new taxes.f In Greece, the ordinary 

* Beugnot, vol. ii. p. 162, note b. 

t Aiiicianus Marcellinus, xxx. 1. 9. Zosimus, iv. 13. 

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ceremonies of paganism often bore a close resem- 
blance to the prohibited rites; and the new laws 
could not have been enforced without causing a 
general persecution of paganism, which does not 
appear to have been the object of the emperors. 
The proconsul of Greece, himself a pagan, solicited 
the emperor Valens to exempt his province from 
the operation of the law ; and so tolerant was the 
Roman administration, w r hen the district was too 
poor to offer a rich harvest for the fisc, that Greece 
was allowed to continue to celebrate its pagan 

Until this period, the temples had generally 
preserved all their property and revenues admini- 
stered by private individuals, and drawn from 
sources unconnected with the public treasury. The 
rapid destruction of the temples, which took place 
after the reign of Valens, must have been caused, 
in a great measure, by the conversion of those 
intrusted with their care, to Christianity. When 
the hereditary priests seized the revenues of the 
heathen god as a private estate, they would rejoice 
in seeing the temple fall rapidly to ruin, if they 
did not dare to destroy it openly. The Emperor 
Gratian first laid aside the title of Pontifex 
Maximus, and removed the altar of victory from 
the senate house of Rome, These acts were 
equivalent to a declaration, that paganism was no 
longer the acknowledged religion of the senate 
and the Roman people. It was Theodosius the 
Great, however, who finally established the orthodox 

* Zosimus, iv. 3» 

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church as the established religion of the empire; 
and in the East he succeeded completely in uniting 
the Christian church with the imperial administra- 
tion ; but in the West, the power and prejudices of 
the Roman aristocracy prevented his measures from 
attaining full success. 

Theodosius, in rendering Christianity the esta- 
blished religion of the empire, increased the 
administrative and judicial authority of the bishops ; 
and the Greeks being in possession of the orthodox 
church, were thus raised to the highest social 
position which subjects were capable of attaining. 
The Greek bishop, who preserved his national 
language and customs, was now the equal of the 
governor of a province, who assumed the name 
and language of a Roman. The court, as well 
as the civil administration, of Theodosius the 
Great, continued Roman; and the influence of 
the Latin clergy, and particularly of St Ambrose, 
prevented the cause of the Greek clergy from be- 
coming completely identified with the imperial 
court. The power now conferred on the clergy, 
supported as it was by the popular origin of the 
priesthood, by the feelings of brotherhood which 
pervaded the Greek church, and by the strong 
attachment of their flocks, was generally employed 
to serve and protect the people, and often suc- 
ceeded in tempering the unlimited despotism of 
the imperial authority. The clergy began to form 
a part of the state. A popular bishop could hardly 
be removed from his diocese, without the govern- 
ment's incurring as much danger as it formerly 
encountered in separating a successful general 

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from his army, The difficulties which the emperor 
Constantino met with, in removing St Athanasius 
from the see of Alexandria, and the necessity he 
was under of obtaining his condemnation in a 
general council, shew that the church already 
possessed the power of defending its members ; and 
that a power had arisen which legally restrained the 
arbitrary will of the emperor. Still, it must not be 
supposed that bishops had yet acquired the privilege 
of being tried only by their peel's. The emperor was 
considered the supreme judge in ecclesiastical, as 
w 7 ell as in civil matters, and the council of Sardica 
was satisfied with petitioning for liberty of con- 
science, and freedom from the oppression of the 
civil magistrate.* 

Though the good effects of Christianity, on the 
moral and political condition of the ancient world, 
have never been called in question, historians have, 
nevertheless, more than once reproached the 
Christian religion with accelerating the decline of 
the Roman empire. A careful comparison of the 
progress of society in the eastern and western 
provinces, must lead to a different conclusion. 
It appears certain, that the Latin provinces were 
ruined by the strong attachment of the aristocracy 
of Rome to the generally forsaken superstitions of 
paganism ; as, indeed, there can be very little doubt 
that the eastern provinces were saved by the unity 
with which all ranks embraced Christianity. In the 
western empire, the people, the Roman aristocracy, 

* A. D. 347. The « Constantinus non ausus est de causa episcopi judicare," 
is an idle phrase of St Augustine. Milman's Hitt. of Christ. voK ii. p. 36) 
297. Paris ed. Cod. Throdos. xvi. 2. 12. 

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and the imperial administration, formed three 
separate sections of society, unconnected either by 
religious opinion or national feelings ; and each was 
ready to enter into alliances with armed bands in the 
empire, in order to gratify their respective interests, 
prejudices, or passions. The consequence of this 
state of things was, that Rome and the western 
empire, in spite of their wealth and population, were 
easily conquered by comparatively feeble enemies ; 
while Constantinople, with all its original weakness, 
beat back both the Goths and the Huns, in the 
plenitude of their power, in consequence of the 
union which Christianity inspired. Rome fell be- 
cause the senate and the Roman people clung too 
long to its ancient institutions — forsaken by the 
great body of the population, and persecuted by the 
government ; while Greece escaped destruction, and 
again revived, because she modified her political 
and religious institutions in conformity with the 
opinions of her inhabitants, and with the policy of 
her government. The popular element in the social 
organization of the Greek people, by its alliance 
with Christianity, conferred the energy which saved 
the eastern empire ; the disunion of the pagans and 
Christians, and the disorder in the administration 
flowing from this disunion, ruined the western. 

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The establishment of a second capital at Con- 
stantinople, has generally been considered a severe 
blow to the Roman empire ; but, from the time of 
Diocletian, Rome had ceased to be the residence of 
the emperors. Various motives induced the sove- 
reigns of the empire to avoid Rome ; the power and 
influence of the Roman senate circumscribed their 
authority; the turbulence and numbers of the 
people rendered even their persons insecure ; while 
the immense revenues required for donatives to the 
pretorian guards, and for the distributions of provi- 
sions to the citizens, formed a heavy burden to the 
imperial treasury. When the emperor, therefore, 
by becoming a Christian, was placed in personal 
opposition to the Roman senate, there could be no 
longer any doubt, that Rome would have proved a 
very unsuitable residence for the Christian court. 
Constantine was compelled to choose a new capital 
for the empire; and in doing so he chose wisely. 
His selection of Byzantium was, it is true, deter- 
mined by reasons connected with the imperial 
administration, without any reference to the influ- 
ence which his choice might have on the prosperity 
of his subjects. Its first effect was to preserve the 
unity of the eastern empire. The Roman empire 
had, for some time previous to the reign of Con- 
stantine, given strong proofs of a tendency to 
separate into a number of small states. The neces- 

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sity of the personal control of the sovereign over 
the executive power, in the provinces, was so great, 
that Constantine himself, who had done all he could 
to complete the concentration of the general 
government, thought it necessary to divide the 
executive administration of the empire among his 
family at his death. The union effected by the 
centralizing of the management of the army, 
and the civil and judicial authority, prevented the 
division of the executive from partitioning the 
empire, until the feelings of the population of the 
East and the West became completely adverse. 

The foundation of Constantinople was the par- 
ticular act which secured the integrity of the 
eastern provinces, and prevented their separating 
into a number of independent states. It is true, that 
the transferring of the administration of the East 
more completely into the hands of the Greeks, roused 
the nationality of the Syrians and Egyptians into 
activity, — an activity, however, which seemed to 
present no danger to the empire. The establishment 
of the seat of government at Constantinople enabled 
the emperors to destroy many abuses, and effect 
numerous reforms, which recruited the resources, and 
revived the strength, of the eastern portion of the 
empire. The East, by its superior vitality, repulsed 
all those hordes of barbarians who ultimately sub- 
dued the West. 

Society underwent some modifications in the East, 
in consequence of the change of the capital. It 
acquired a more settled and stationary form. Before 
the reign of Constantine, ambition had been the 
leading feature of the Roman state. Every body 

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was striving for official rank ; and the facilities of 
ascending the throne, or arriving at the highest 
dignities, were indefinitely multiplied by the rapid 
succession of emperors. Constantine, in giving to the 
government the form of a regular monarchy, intro- 
duced the hereditary principle into society ; and as 
ambition could no longer be gratified with the same 
ease as formerly, avarice, or rather rapacity, became 
the characteristic feature of the ruling classes. 
This avarice soon caused the venality of justice. 
The middling classes, already sinking under the 
general anarchy, and the fiscal oppression of the 
empire, were now exposed to the attacks of the 
aristocracy, and property became even more inse- 
cure than formerly. 

The condition of Greece had, nevertheless, im- 
proved considerably in the interval which had 
elapsed between the invasion of the Goths in the 
reign of Gallienus and the time of Constantine. 
History, it is true, supplies only a few scattered 
incidents from which the fact of this improvement 
can be inferred; but the gradual progress of the 
amelioration is satisfactorily established. When 
Constantine and Licinius prepared to dispute the 
sole possession of the empire, they assembled tw T o 
powerful fleets, both of which were composed chiefly 
of Greek vessels. The armament of Constantine con- 
sisted of two hundred light galleys of w r ar, and two 
thousand transports, and these immense naval forces 
were assembled at the Piraeus. This selection of the 
Piraeus as a naval station, indicates that it was no 
longer in the desolate condition in which it had been 
seen by Pausanias in the second century, and it shews 

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that Athens itself had recovered from whatever 
injury it had sustained from the Gothic expedition. 
To these frequent reconstructions of the Greek cities 
in the course of centuries, almost unnoticed by 
history, but accompanied by more than one flux and 
reflux of prosperity, we are to attribute the disap- 
pearance of the immense remains of ancient build- 
ings and walls which must have once covered the 
soil, but which must have been broken up on these 
occasions to serve as materials for new structures. 

The fleet of Constantine was collected among the 
Europeans ; that of Licinius, which consisted of 
triremes, was fiirnished chiefly by the Asiatic and 
Lybian Greeks. The number of the Syrian and 
Egyptian vessels was comparatively smaller than 
would have been the case two centuries earlier. It 
appears, therefore, that the commerce of the Medi- 
terranean had returned into the hands of the Greeks. 
The trade of central Asia, which took the route of 
the Black Sea, had increased in consequence of the 
insecure state of the Red Sea, Egypt, and Syria, 
and had given an impulse to Greek industry. 

The carrying trade of Western Europe was again 
falling into Greek hands. Athens, as the capital of the 
old Hellenic population, from its municipal liberty 
and flourishing schools of learning, was rising into 
importance. Constantine honoured this city with 
marks of peculiar favour, which were conferred cer- 
tainly from a regard to its political importance, and 
not from any admiration of the studies of its pagan 
philosophers. He not only ordered an annual distri- 
bution of grain to be made to the citizens of Athens, 

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from the imperial revenues, but he accepted the title 
of Strategus when offered by its inhabitants. 

As soon as Julian had assumed the purple in Gaul, 
and marched against Constantius, he endeavoured to 
gain the Greek population to his party, by flattering 
their national feelings ; and he strove to induce 
them to connect their cause with his own, in oppo- 
sition to the Roman government of Constantius. 
He seems, in general, to have been received with 
favour by the Greeks, though his aversion to Chris- 
tianity must have excited some opposition. Unless 
the Greek population in Europe had greatly increased 
in wealth and influence, during the preceding century, 
it could hardly have entered into the plans of Julian 
to take the prominent measures which he adopted 
to secure their support. He addressed letters to the 
municipalities of Athens, Corinth, and Lacedaemon, 
in order to persuade these cities to join his cause. 
The letter to the Athenians has been preserved, and 
is a carefully prepared political manifesto, explaining 
the grievances which compelled him to assume the 
purple. Athens, Corinth, and Lacedaemon, could 
not have been insignificant towns, otherwise Julian 
would only have rendered his cause ridiculous by ad- 
dressing them at such a critical moment ; and though 
possibly ignorant of the state of religious feeling 
in the popular mind, he must have been too well 
acquainted with the statistics of the empire, to 
commit any error of this kind, in public business. 
It may also be observed, that the care with which 
history has recorded the ravages caused in Greece 
by earthquakes, during the reigns of Valentinian and 

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Valens, affords conclusive testimony of the importance 
then attached to the well-being of the Greek popu- 

The ravages committed by the Goths, in the 
provinces immediately to the south of the Danube, 
must have turned, for a short time, to the profit of 
Greece. Though some bands of the barbarians often 
pushed their incursions into Macedonia and Thessaly, 
still Greece generally served as a place of retreat for 
the wealthy inhabitants of the invaded districts-! 
When Theodosius, therefore, subdued the Goths, the 
Greek provinces, both in Europe and Asia, were 
among the most flourishing portions of the empire ; 
and the Greek population, as a body, was, without 
question, the most numerous and best organized part 
of the emperor's subjects ; property, in short, was no 
where so secure as among the Greeks. 

The rapacity of the imperial government had, 
however, undergone no diminution ; and the weight 
of taxation was still compelling the people every 
where to encroach on the capital accumulated by 
former ages, and to abstain from all investments, 
which only promised a distant remuneration.:!: The 
influx into Greece of a great amount of wealth from 
the ruined provinces of the North, and the profits of 
a change in the direction of trade, were temporary 
causes of prosperity, and could only render the 
burden of the public taxes lighter for one or two 

* Ammianus Marcell. xxvi. 10. Zosimus, iv. 18. 

+ Zosimus, iv. 20. Eunapius, p. 51, ed. Bonn. 

X It is needless to accumulate proofs of the nature of the fiscal adminis- 
tration of this period, — every page of history offers them. Julian, as an 
emperor, is a good authority. " Rapere non accipere sciunt agentes in 
rebus." — Amm. Mar. xvi. 15. 

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generations. The imperial treasury was sure ulti- 
mately to absorb the whole of these accidental 
supplies. It w T as, indeed, only in the ancient seats of 
the Hellenic race that any signs of prosperity were 
visible ; for in Syria, Egypt, and Cyrene, the Greek 
population displayed evident proofs that they were 
suffering in the general decline of the empire. 
Their number was gradually diminishing, while that 
of the Arab inhabitants of these countries was 
gaining ground. Civilization was sinking to the 
level of Arabian society. In Asia, the Greeks 
received a blow from which the population never 
recovered. Jovian, by his treaty with Sapor the 
Second, ceded to Persia the five provinces of Arza- 
nene, Mexoene, Zabdicene, Rehimene, and Corduene, 
and the Roman colonies of Nisibis and Zanzara in 
Mesopotamia. As Sapor was a fierce persecutor of 
the Christians, the whole Greek population of these 
districts was obliged to emigrate. The power of 
the Persian empire, and its bigoted attachment to 
the Magian worship, never allowed the Greeks to 
recover their former station; and, from this time, 
the natives acquired the complete ascendancy over 
the Greeks in all the country beyond the Euphrates. 
The bigoted nature of the Persian government, 
at this time, is not to be overlooked, in estimating 
the various causes which drove the trade of India 
through the northern regions of Asia, to the shores 
of the Black Sea. 

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It would be a depressing notion, were it to be 
admitted, that the general degradation of mankind, 
after the time of the Antonines, was the effect of 
some inherent principle of decay, proceeding from 
an inevitable state of exhaustion in the condition of 
a highly civilized society; that a moral deficiency 
produced incurable corruption, and rendered good 
government impracticable; that these evils were 
irremediable, even by the influence of Christianity ; 
and, in short, that the destruction of all the elements 
of the Roman world, was necessary for the regene- 
ration of the social as well as the political system. 
But there is happily no ground for any such opinion. 
The evils of society were produced by the injustice 
and oppression of the Roman government, and that 
government was unfortunately too powerful to enable 
the people to force it to reform its conduct. After 
the Roman authority was destroyed, similar causes 
produced the same effects ; and the revival of civiliza- 
tion commenced only, when the people had acquired 
power sufficient to enforce a respect for public 
opinion. History has fortunately preserved some 
scanty memorials of a Greek population living beyond 
the bounds of the Roman empire, which afford the 
means of estimating the effects of political causes, in 
modifying the character of the Greek nation. The 
flourishing condition of the independent Greek city 
of Cherson, in Tauris, furnishes ample testimony that 

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the state of society among the Greeks admitted of 
the existence of all those virtues, and of the exercise 
of all that energy, which are necessary to support 

The city of Cherson had recovered the independence 
which it had lost, by the conquests of the kings of 
Pontus, in consequence of having been admitted by 
the Romans to the rank of an ally, and being, from 
its distance and isolated situation, beyond the con- 
trol of any Roman magistrates.* It preserved the 
republican form of government of the Greek states, 
and contrived to defend its freedom for centuries, 
against the ambition of the kings of Bosphorus, 
and the attacks of the neighbouring Goths. The 
wealth and power of Cherson depended on its com- 
merce, and this commerce flourished under institu- 
tions which guaranteed the rights of property. The 
Emperor Constantine, in his Gothic wars, did not 
disdain to demand the aid of this little state ; and he 
acknowledged, with gratitude, the great assistance 
which the Roman empire had derived from the 
military forces of the Chersonites. No history could 
present more instructive lessons than that of the 
Greek colonies in the Tauric Chersonesus, during 
the decline of the empire, and it is deeply to be 
regretted that none exists. About three hundred 
and fifty years before the Christian era, the kingdom 
of the Cimmerian Bosphorus, one of these Greek colo- 
nies, was in a flourishing agricultural condition ; and 
its monarch had been enabled to prevent a famine 
at Athens, by supplying that city with two millions 

* Cherson was a short distance to the west of the modern Sevastopol. 
See Gibbon, iii. 125, and Pliny, Hist. Nat. lib. iv. c. 26. 

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bushels of wheat in a single season.* In the course 
of a thousand years, all had changed around: the 
declining population of the south had enabled the 
rude people of the north and east to crush all 
industry beyond the walls of the Grecian cities ; but 
these cities, even in this altered world, preserved 
their liberty and industry. The fertile fields, which 
had fed the Athenians and the islanders of the 
Archipelago, were converted into pasturage for the 
droves of cattle of the Goths ; but the commerce of 
the Chersonites, still supplied them with wealth to 
import their corn, oil, and wine, from the provinces 
of the Byzantine empire. 

The commercial Greeks of the empire began now 
to feel, that there were countries in which they 
could live and prosper, beyond the power of the 
Roman administration. Christianity had penetrated 
far into the East, and Christians were every where 
united by the closest ties. The speculations of trade 
began to occupy a more important place in society, 
while the enormous riches of the Roman nobility was 
now nearly annihilated by confiscations, and trade 
carried many Greeks of education among a variety 
of people, little inferior to the Romans in civiliza- 
tion, and surpassing them in wealth. It was 
impossible for these travellers to avoid examining 
the conduct of the imperial administration, with the 
critical eye of men who had viewed various countries, 
and weighed the merits of different systems of fiscal 
government. For them, therefore, oppression had 
certain limits, from which, when transgressed, they 
would have escaped by transporting themselves and 

* Boeckh's Public Economy of Athens, 1. 121. 

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their fortunes beyond the reach of the imperial tax- 
gatherers. The inhabitants of the western empire 
could entertain no similar hope of avoiding op- 

About the time of Constantine, the Greeks carried 
on an extensive commerce with the northern shores 
of the Black Sea, Armenia, India, Arabia, and 
Ethiopia, and some of the merchants carried their 
adventures as far as Ceylon. A Greek colony had 
been established in the island of Socotra, (Dioscorides,) 
in the time of the Ptolemies, as a station for the 
Indian trade ; and this colony, mixed with a number 
of Syrians, still continued to exist, in spite of the 
troubles raised by the Saracens on the northern 
shores of the Red Sea, and their wars with the 
emperors, particularly with Valens* The travels 
of the philosopher Metrodorus, and the missionary 
labours of the Indian bishop Theophilus, prove the 
existence of a regular intercourse between the 
empire, and India and Ethiopia, by the waters of the 
Red Sea. The curiosity of the philosopher, and the 
enthusiasm of the missionary, were excited by the 
reports of the ordinary traders ; while their enterprises 
were every where facilitated by the mercantile 
speculations of a regular traffic. Feelings of religion 
at this time, extended the efforts of the Christians, 
and opened up new channels for commerce. The 
kingdom of Ethiopia was converted to Christianity 

* Soc&at. iv. 36. Sozomen. Ece. Hi$t. vi. 38. The Indies were in 
ancient times divided into the East and West, according to their direction 
from the Straits of Babelmandel ; and Ethiopia is often called India. The 
inhabitants of Dioscorides spoke Syriac in the middle of the fourth century, 
and Greek, when visited by Cosmas Indicopleustes in the sixth. Lkbbav, 
Hirtoire du Bat-Empire, 1. 441, with the notes of Saint-Martin. 

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by two Greek slaves, who rose to the highest 
dignities in the state, and whose influence could 
not fail to be employed in forming new means of 
communication with the heathens in the south of 
Africa, and assisting the Greek traders, as well 
as the Christian missionaries, in penetrating into 
countries whither no Roman had ever ventured. 



The separation of the eastern and western 
portions of the Roman empire into two independent 
states, under Arcadius and Honorius, was the last 
step, in a long series of events, which seemed to 
secure the re-establishment of the independence of 
the Greek nation. The interest of the sovereigns 
of the eastern empire became intimately connected 
with the fortunes of their Greek subjects. The 
Greek language began to be generally spoken by 
the court, and Greek feelings of nationality gra- 
dually made their way, not only into the administra- 
tion and the army, but even into the family of the 
emperors. The numbers of the Greek population, 
in the eastern empire, gave a unity of feeling to the 
inhabitants, a nationality of character to the govern- 
ment, and a degree of power to the Christian 
church, which w r ere completely wanting in the ill- 
cemented structure of the West. New vigour 
seemed on the point of being infused into the 
imperial government, as circumstances strongly 

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impelled the emperors to participate in the feelings 
and national interests of their subjects. Nor were 
these hopes entirely delusive. The slow and majes- 
tic decline of the Roman empire was arrested in the 
East; and a singular combination of events had 
occurred, as if expressly to teach the historical 
lesson, that the Roman government had fallen, 
through its own faults, by having consumed the 
capital of its own revenues, and not from any exte- 
rior power — since the strength of the barbarians 
had only been sufficient to occupy the deserts which 
the emperors had created. 

As soon as the eastern empire was definitively 
separated from the western, the popular organiza- 
tion of the Greek municipalities, and the direct 
connection of the body of the people with the 
clergy, began to exercise a marked influence on the 
general government. Though the imperial admini- 
stration continued, in all fiscal matters, to maintain 
the old axiom, that the people were the serft 
of the state; yet the emperors, from the want 
of an aristocracy, whom they might now plunder, 
were thrown back on the immediate support 
of the people, whose good will could not be 
neglected so long as the higher dignitaries of the 
church were imbued with national feelings. It is 
not to be supposed, that in the general decline of 
the empire, any disorganization of the frame of civil 
society was manifest in any of the various nations 
which lived under the Roman government. The 
numbers of the population had, indeed, every where 
diminished, but no convulsions had affected the 
moral condition of the people. Domestic virtue 

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was by no means rarer than it had been in brighter 
periods of history. The even tenor of life flowed 
calmly on, in a great portion of the empire, from 
generation to generation. Philosophical and meta- 
physical speculations had, in the absence of the 
more active pursuits of political life, been the chief 
occupation of the higher orders ; and when the 
Christian religion became universal, it gradually 
directed the whole attention of the educated to 
theological questions. These studies certainly exer- 
cised a favourable influence on the general morality 
of mankind, and the tone of society was charac- 
terized by a purity of manners, and a degree of 
charitable feeling, which have probably never been 
surpassed. Nothing can more remarkably display 
the extent to which the principles of humanity had 
penetrated, than the writings of the Emperor Julian. 
In the fervour of his pagan enthusiasm, he continu- 
ally borrows Christian sentiments to clothe them in 
a heathen dress. 

The complaints made by the people of the oppres- 
sion of the public administration, was now, by the 
common consent of the prince and people, directed 
against the abuses of the system, by the revenue 
officers. The historians of this period, and the 
decrees of the emperors themselves, charge these 
officers with producing the general misery, by the 
trifling peculations which they committed; but no 
emperor yet thought of devoting his attention to a 
careful reformation of the system which allowed such 
disorders. The indignation of the emperor, however, 
who threatens the agents of the treasury with death, 
if they indulge in extortion, speaks indirectly in 

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favour of the state of society, in which the vices of 
the administration were so severely felt.* 

An anecdote often illustrates the condition of 
society more correctly than a dissertation, though 
there is always some danger that an anecdote has 
found its place in history, from the singularity of the 
picture which it presents. The one now selected, 
seems, however, interesting, as affording a faithful 
picture of general manners, and as giving an accurate 
view of the most prominent defects in the Roman 
administration. Acyndinus, the prefect of the Orient, 
enjoyed the reputation of an able, just, and severe 
governor. He collected the public revenues with 
inflexible justice, but with a sternness which must 
have depopulated, as well as impoverished his 
prefecture. In the course of his ordinary adminis- 
tration, he threatened one of the inhabitants of 
Antioch, already in prison, with death, in case he 
should fail to discharge, within a fixed term, a 
debt due to the imperial treasury. His power was 
admitted, and his habitual attention to the claims of 
the fisc, gave public defaulters at Antioch no hope 
of escaping with any punishment short of slavery, 
which was civil death. The prisoner was married 
to a beautiful woman, and the parties were united 
by the warmest affection. The circumstances of 
their case, and their situation in life, excited some 
attention. A man of great wealth offered at last to 
pay the husband's debt, on condition that he should 
obtain the favours of his beautiful wife. The pro- 
posal excited the indignation of the lady, but when 

* Cod. Theodoi. i. t. vii. lib. 1 . Cessent jam nunc rapaces officialium niauua, 
cessent, inquam : nam si moniti non cessaverint, gladiis procidentur. 

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it was communicated to her imprisoned husband* he 
thought life too valuable not to be preserved by 
such a sacrifice; and his prayers had more effect 
with his wife, than the wealth or the solicitations of 
her admirer. The libertine, though wealthy, proved 
to be mean and avaricious, and contrived to cheat 
the lady with a bag filled with sand instead of gold. 
The unfortunate wife, baffled in her hopes of saving 
her husband, threw herself at the feet of the Prefect 
Acyndinus, to whom she revealed the whole of the 
disgraceful transaction. The prefect was deeply 
moved by the evil effects of his severity ; and, struck 
by the variety of crimes which he had caused, 
attempted to render justice, by apportioning a 
punishment to the culprits, suitable to the nature of 
the offence of each. As the penalty of his own 
severity, he condemned himself to pay the debt due 
to the imperial treasury. He sentenced the fraudu- 
lent seducer to transfer to the injured lady, the estate 
which had supplied him with the wealth which he 
had so infamously employed. The debtor was im- 
mediately released — he appeared to be sufficiently 
punished by his imprisonment and shame.* 

The severity of the revenue laws, and the arbi- 
trary power of the prefects in matters of finance, are 
well represented in this anecdote. The injury 
inflicted on society by a provincial administration so 
constituted must have been incalculable. Even the 
justice and disinterestedness of such a prefect as 
Acyndinus, required to be called into action by extra- 
ordinary crimes, and, after all, virtues such as his could 
afford no very sure guarantee against oppression. 

* Lk Beau, Histoid du Bat-Empire, i. 414, and the authorities referred to. 


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Ill spite of the great progress which Christianity 
had made in all classes, there still existed, in the 
East, a numerous body of pagans among the higher 
ranks of the old aristocracy, who maintained several 
schools of philosophy, in which a species of alle- 
gorical pantheism was the religion taught. The 
pure morality inculcated, and the honourable lives 
of the teachers in these schools, enabled these 
philosophers to find votaries long after paganism 
might be considered virtually extinct as a national 
religion. While the pagans still possessed a succes- 
sion of distinguished literary characters, a consider- 
able body of the Christians were beginning to 
proclaim an open contempt of all learning which 
was not contained in the Scriptures. This fact is 
connected with the increased power of the national 
feelings in all the provinces, and with the aversion 
of the natives both to the Roman government and 
the Greek nation. The Greeks having long been 
in possession of the privileges of Roman citizens, 
called themselves Romans, and applied, in Europe, 
the name of Hellenes exclusively to the followers 
of paganism ; Christians and Hellenes, consequently, 
became distinctive terms, even in Hellas — the 
name which Greece still preserved. 

It is necessary here to notice, that, from the time 
of Constantine, the two great principles of law and 
religion began to exert a favourable influence on 
Greek society, by their effect in moderating the 
despotic power of the imperial administration, in its 
ordinary communications with the people. The 
lawyers and the clergy acquired a fixed position in 
the state, based on their organization as political 

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bodies ; and thus the branches of government With 
which they were connected, were, in some degree, 
emancipated from arbitrary changes, and approached 
a systematic or constitional form. The dispensa- 
tion of justice, though it remained entirely dependent 
on the executive government, was placed in the 
hands of a distinct class ; and as the law required a 
long and laborious study, its administration followed 
a steady and invariable course, which it was difficult 
for any other branch of the executive to interrupt. 
The lawyers and judges formed in the same school, 
and guided by the same written rules, were placed 
under the influence of a limited public opinion, 
which at least insured a certain degree of self- 
respect, supported by professional interests, but 
founded on general principles of equity. The body 
of lawyers not only obtained a complete control 
over the judicial proceedings of the tribunals, and 
restrained the injustice of proconsuls and prefects, 
but they even assigned limits to the wild despotism 
exercised by the earlier emperors. The department 
of general legislation was likewise intrusted to 
lawyers ; and the good effects of this arrangement is 
apparent, from the conformity of the decrees of the 
worst emperors, after this period, with the principles 
of justice. 

The power of the clergy, originally resting on a 
more popular and purer basis than that of the law, 
became at last so great, that it suffered the inevitable 
corruption of all irresponsible authority intrusted to 
humanity. The power of the bishops equalled that 
of the provincial governors in weight, and was not 
under the constant control of the imperial adminis- 

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tration. To gain such a position, intrigue, simony, 
and popular sedition, were often employed. Sup- 
ported by the people, a bishop ventured to resist the 
emperor himself; supported by the emperor and the 
people, he ventured even to neglect the principles 
of Christianity. Theophilus, the patriarch of Alex- 
andria, even dared to ordain the Platonic philosopher, 
Synesius, bishop of Ptolemais, in Cyrenai'ca, before 
he believed in the resurrection.* 

In estimating the relative extent of the influence 
exercised by law and religion on the social condition 
of the Greeks; it must be remarked, that Greek was 
the language of the Eastern church, from the time 
of its connection with the imperial administration ; 
while, unfortunately for the law, Latin continued to 
be the language of legal business in the East, until 
after the time of Justinian. This fact explains the 
comparatively trifling influence exercised by the legal 
class, in establishing the supremacy of the Greek 
nation in the Eastern empire, and accounts also for 
the undue influence which the clergy were enabled 
to acquire in civil affairs. Had the language of the 
law been that of the people, the Eastern lawyers, 
supported by the municipal institutions and demo- 
cratic feelings of the Greeks, could hardly have 
failed, in combining with the church, to form a 
systematic and constitutional barrier, against the 
arbitrary exercise of the imperial authority. The 
want of a national system of law was a defect in the 
social condition of the Greeks which they never 
supplied, until the decay of civilization, and the 

* Sharpens Egypt under the Romans, 192. 

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decline of wealth and knowledge, had so weakened 
the power of public opinion, as to make the court 
of Constantinople the centre of the nation. 

Slavery continued to exist in the same manner as 
in earlier times ; and the slave trade formed a very 
important branch of the commerce of the Roman 
empire. It is true that the humanity of a philoso- 
phical age, and the precepts of the Gospel, had 
introduced a few restraints on the most barbarous 
features of the power possessed by the Romans over 
the lives and persons of their slaves ; still, freemen 
were sold as slaves by government if they failed to 
pay their taxes, and parents were allowed to sell 
their own children. A new and more systematic 
slavery than the old personal one had grown up in 
the rural districts, in consequence of the fiscal 
arrangements of the empire. The public registers 
shewed the numbers of slaves employed in the 
cultivation of every farm ; and the proprietor was 
bound to pay a certain tax for these slaves according 
to their employment. Even when the land was 
cultivated by free peasants, the proprietor was 
responsible to the fisc for their capitation tax. As 
the interest of the government and of the proprietor, 
therefore, coincided to restrain the free labourer 
from abandoning the cultivation of the land, he 
gradually sank into the condition of a serf; while, 
on the other hand, in the case of slaves employed in 
farming, the government had an interest in pre- 
venting the proprietor from withdrawing their labour 
from the cultivation of the soil : these slaves, there- 
fore, rose to the rank of serfs. The cultivators of the 
soil became, for this reason, attached to it, and their 

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slavery ceased to be personal ; they acquired rights, 
and possessed a station in society. This was the 
first step made by mankind towards the abolition of 

The double origin of serfs must be carefully 
observed, in order to explain many apparently 
contradictory expressions of the Roman law. There 
is a law of Constantius preserved in Justinian's code, 
which shews that slaves were then attached to the 
soil, and could not be separated from it. There is a 
law, also, of the Emperor Anastasius, which proves 
that, in his time, a freeman, who had lived for thirty 
years cultivating the property of another, was pro- 
hibited from quitting that property ; but he remained 
in other respects a freeman.f The cultivator was 
called by the Romans colonus, and might, conse- 
quently, be either a slave or a freeman. His 
condition, however, was soon so completely deter- 
mined by special laws, that its original constitution 
was lost.t 

* It is impossible to allude to ancient slavery without mentioning the 
excellent work of Blair, Inquiry into the State of Slavery amongst the 
Roman*. Edin. 1833. See also, De V Abolition de V Etclavage ancien en 
Occident, par E. Biat. 

+ Codex Juit. de Agricolit et Cent. 1. 2. and 1. 18. 

% Some of the opinions of Savigny, in his profound essay, Ueber den 
Boemischen Colonat, (Abhand. Acad, von Berlin, 1822,) seem to overlook 
this double origin of the condition of serfs after the time of Cons tan tine. 
The interests of the revenue being against the free farmer, and in favour of 
the slave cultivator, naturally rendered the law cruel to the one, and humane 
to the other. 

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The first great immigration of the Goths to the 
south of the Danube took place with the permission 
of the emperor Valens ; but, as none of the measures 
necessary to insure their tranquil settlement in the 
country were adopted by the Roman government, 
these troublesome colonists were soon converted 
into dangerous enemies. Being ill supplied with 
provisions, and finding the country unprotected, they 
began to plunder Meesia, Thrace, and Macedonia, 
for subsistence; and, at last, imboldened by their 
success, they extended their incursions over the 
whole country, from the walls of Constantinople to 
the borders of Thessaly and Ulyria. The Roman 
troops were defeated. The Emperor Valens, ad- 
vancing inconsiderately in the confidence of victory, 
was vanquished in the battle of Adrianople, and 
ignominiously perished. The massacre of a consider- 
able number of Goths, retained in Asia as hostages 
and mercenaries, roused the fury of their victorious 
countrymen, and gave an unusual degree of cruelty 
to the war of devastation which they carried on for 
three years. As soon as Theodosius the Great assumed 
the command of the armies in the East, he put an 
end to these disorders. The Goths were still unable 
to resist the Roman troops when properly con- 
ducted. Theodosius compelled their finest bodies of 
warriors to enter the imperial service, and either 
destroyed the remaining bands, or compelled them 
to escape beyond the Danube. 

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The depopulated state of the empire induced 
Theodosius to establish colonies of the Goths, whom 
he had forced to submit, in Phrygia and Lydia. 
Thus, it appears that even the Roman emperors were 
the first to replace the old population of the empire, 
by new races of inhabitants. Theodosius granted 
peculiar privileges to the dangerous foreigners 
whom he introduced, and left these hordes of 
barbarians in possession of their national institutions, 
merely on condition, that they should furnish a 
certain number of recruits for the military service 
of the state. When the native population of the 
empire was gradually diminishing, some suspicion 
must surely have been entertained that this diminu- 
tion was principally caused by the conduct of the 
government ; yet so deeply rooted was the opposi- 
tion of interests between the government and the 
governed, and so distrustful were the emperors of 
their subjects, that they preferred confiding their 
defence to foreign mercenaries, to reducing the 
amount, and changing the nature, of the fiscal 
contributions, by which they might have secured 
the support, and awakened the energy of the 

The Roman despotism had left the people almost 
without any political rights to defend, and with but 
few public duties which they were willing to perform ; 
and w T hile the free inhabitants deplored the decline of 
the agricultural population, and lamented their own 
degeneracy, which induced them to crowd into the 
towns, they either did not perceive, or did not dare 
to proclaim, that these evils were caused by the 
imperial administration, and could only be remedied 

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by some authority, which could secure a more equi- 
table system of government. It seems, indeed, that 
mankind, in order to possess the combination of 
moral and physical courage necessary to defend their 
property and rights against foreign invasion, must 
feel convinced, that they have the power of securing 
that property and those rights against all domestic 
injustice, and arbitrary oppression. 

The Goths had commenced their relations with 
the Roman empire before the middle of the third 
century ; and during the period they had dwelt in 
the countries adjoining the Roman provinces, they had 
made great progress in civilization, and their chiefs 
in military and political knowledge.* From the 
time Aurelian abandoned to them the province of 
Dacia beyond the Danube, they became the lords of 
a fertile, cultivated, and well-peopled country. As 
the great body of the agricultural population had 
been left behind by the Romans when they vacated 
the province, the Goths suddenly found themselves 
the proprietors of lands, which, to men of their 
simple habits of life, were splendid possessions. The 
anarchical, though mild, government of the Goths 
proved, however, every where more ruinous than the 
systematic oppression of Rome. Still, in Dacia, the 
Goths were enabled to improve their arms and 
discipline, and to assume the ideas and manners 
of a barbarous aristocracy. Though they remained 
always inferior to the Romans in military science and 
civil arts, they were their equals in bravery, and their 
superiors in honesty and truth, so that the Goths 

♦ Excerpta e Petri Pat. Hut. p. 124. ed. Bonn. A. D. 230. 

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were always received with favour in the imperial 
service. It must not be forgotten, that no compa- 
rison ought, however, to be established between the 
Gothic contingents and the provincial conscripts. 
The Gothic warriors were selected from a race 
devoted exclusively to arms, who looked with 
contempt on all industrious occupations ; while the 
native troops of the empire were taken from the 
poorest peasantry, torn from their cottages, and 
mingled with slaves and the dissolute classes of the 
cities, compelled to enlist from hunger and a love 
of idleness. The number and importance of the 
Gothic forces in the Roman armies, during the reign 
of Theodosius, enabled several of their commanders 
to attain the highest rank ; and among these officers, 
the most distinguished, by birth, talents, and national 
influence, was Alaric* 

The death of Theodosus threw the administration 
of the eastern empire into the hands of Rufinus, the 
minister of Arcadius ; and that of the western, into 
those of Stilicho, the tutor of Honorius. The dis- 
cordant elements which composed the Roman empire 
began to reveal all the incongruities of their union 
under these two ministers. Rufinus was a civilian 
from Gaul ; and from his Roman habits and feelings, 
and western prejudices, disagreeable to the Greeks. 
Stilicho was of barbarian descent, and consequently, 
equally unacceptable to the aristocracy of Rome; 
but he was an able and popular soldier, and had 
served with distinction both in the East and in the 
West. As Stilicho was the husband of the niece 

\ Zosimus, T. 5. 

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and adopted daughter of Theodosius the Great, his 
alliance with the imperial family gave him an 
unusual influence in the administration. The two 
ministers hated one another with all the violence of 
aspiring ambition ; and, unrestrained by any feeling 
of patriotism, each was more intent on ruining his 
rival, than on serving the state. The greater number 
of the Roman officers, civil and military, were 
equally inclined to sacrifice every public duty for 
the gratification of their avarice or ambition. 

At this time, Alaric, partly from disgust at not 
receiving all the preferment which he expected, and 
partly in the hope of compelling the government of the 
Eastern empire to agree to his terms, retired towards 
the frontiers, and assembled a force sufficiently large 
to enable him to act independently of all authority. 
Availing himself of the disputes between the minis- 
ters of the two emperors, and perhaps instigated by 
Rufinus or Stilicho to aid their intrigues, he esta- 
blished himself in the provinces to the south of the 
Danube. In the year 395, he advanced to the walls 
of Constantinople ; but the movement was evidently 
a feint, as he must have known his inability to 
attack a large and populous city defended by a 
powerful garrison, and amply supplied by sea even 
with every luxury. After this demonstration, Alaric 
marched into Thrace and Macedonia. Rufinus has 
been accused of assisting Alaric's invasion ; and his 
negotiations with him while in the vicinity of 
Constantinople, have been considered as authorizing 
the suspicion. When the Goth found the northern 
provinces exhausted, he resolved to invade Greece 
and Peloponesus, which, having long enjoyed a pro- 

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found tranquillity, were then in a flourishing condition. 
The cowardly behaviour of Antiochus the proconsul 
of Achsea, and of Gerontius the commander of the 
Roman troops, both friends of Rufinus, was con- 
sidered a confirmation of his treachery. Thermopylae 
was left unguarded, and Alaric entered Greece 
without encountering any resistance. 

The ravages committed by Alaric's army have 
been described in fearful terms ; villages and towns 
were burnt, the men were murdered, and the women 
and children carried away captive by the Goths. 
But even this invasion affords proofs, that Greece 
had recovered from the desolate condition in which 
it had been seen by Pausanias. Thebes was in such 
a state of defence, that Alaric could not venture to 
besiege it, but hurried forward to Athens. He 
entered that city without opposition: his conquest 
was probably assisted by the treacherous arrange- 
ments with Rufinus, and by a treaty with the 
municipal authorities, which secured the town from 
being plundered by the Gothic soldiers. The tale 
recorded by Zosimus of the Christian Alaric having 
been induced by the apparition of the goddess 
Minerva to spare Athens, is refuted by the direct 
testimony of other writers, who mention the capture 
of the city.* The fact, that the depredations of &- 
Alaric hardly exceed the ordinary license of a 
rebellious general, is, at the same time, perfectly 
established. The public buildings, and monuments 

* The manner in which Zosimus passes over the destruction of Elensis by 
Alaric, saying expressly that he committed no ravages in Attica, deprives 
his narrative of all credit, i. 5. Hieronvmi, Ep. 60, torn. 1. p. 343. 
Philostorgius, xii. 2. Claudianus, In Rufin. ii. 191. Stnes. Eptit. 136. 

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of ancient splendour, suffered no wanton destruc- 
tion from his visit ; but there can be no doubt that 
Alaric and his troops levied heavy contributions on 
the city and its inhabitants. Athens evidently owed 
its good treatment to the strength of its population, 
which imposed some respect on the Goths ; for the 
rest of Attica did not escape the usual fate of the 
districts through which the barbarians marched. 
The town of Eleusis, and the great temple of Ceres 
were plundered, and then destroyed. Whether this 
work of devastation was caused by the Christian 
monks who attended the Gothic host, and excited 
their bigoted Arians to avenge the cause of religion 
on the deserted temples of the Pagans at Eleusis, as 
they had been compelled to spare the shrines at 
Athens, or whether it was the effect of the eager 
desire of plunder, and wanton love of destruction, 
among a disorderly body of troops, it has not been 
ascertained, and is not very material. Bigoted 
monks, avaricious officers, and disorderly soldiers, 
were numerous in Alaric's band. 

Gerontius, who had abandoned the pass of 
Thermopylae, took no measures to defend the 
Isthmus of Corinth, or the difficult passes of Mount 
Geranion, so that Alaric marched unopposed into 
the Peloponnesus, and, ill a short time, captured 
almost every city in it without meeting with any 
resistance. Corinth, Argos, and Sparta, were all 
plundered by the Goths. The security in which 
Greece had long remained, the general poverty of 
the inhabitants, and the policy of the government, 
which discouraged their independent institutions, 
had all conspired to leave the province without 

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protection, and the people without arms. The faci- 
lity which Alaric met with in effecting his conquest, 
and his views, which were directed to obtain an 
establishment in the empire as an imperial officer, 
or feudatory governor, rendered the conduct of his 
army not that of avowed enemies. Yet it often 
happened, that they laid waste every thing in the 
line of their march, burnt the villages, and massacred 
the inhabitants.* 

Alaric passed the winter in the Peloponnesus 
without encountering any opposition from the 
people ; yet many of the Greek cities still kept a 
body of municipal police, which might surely have 
taken the field, had the imperial officers endeavoured 
to organize a regular resistance, on the part of the 
country districts.f The moderation of the Goth, 
and the treason of the Roman governor, seem both 
attested by this circumstance. The government of 
the eastern empire had fallen into such disorder at 
the commencement of the reign of Arcadius, that 
even after Rufinus had been assassinated by the 
army, the new ministers of the empire gave them- 
selves very little concern about the fate of Greece. 
Honorius had a more able, active, and ambitious 
minister in Stilicho, and he determined to punish 
the Goths for their audafcity in daring to establish 
themselves in the empire, without the imperial 
authority. In the spring of the year 396, he 
assembled a fleet at Ravenna, and transported his 
army directly to Corinth, which the Goths do not 
appear to have garrisoned, and where, probably, the 

* E una pi us, In Pritc. i. 17, ed. Boissonade. 
t Peocopius, Ik €tdific%i$ t iv. 2. 

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Roman governor still resided. Stilicho's army, 
aided by the inhabitants, soon cleared the whole 
country of the Gothic bands, and Alaric drew 
together the remains of his diminished army in the 
elevated plains of Mount Pholoe, which has always 
been a favourite point of retreat for the northern 
invaders of Greece.* Stilicho contented himself 
with occupying the passes with his army; but his 
carelessness, and the relaxed discipline of his troops, 
soon afforded the watchful Alaric an opportunity of 
escaping with his army, and all the plunder which 
they had collected, and, by forced marches, of 
gaining the Isthmus of Corinth.f 

Alaric succeeded in conducting his army into 
Epirus, where he disposed his forces to govern and 
plunder that province, as he had expected to rule 
Peloponnesus. Stilicho was supposed to have 
winked at his proceedings, in order to leave a 
dangerous enemy in the eastern empire, the fear of 
whom would render his own services indispensable. 
But Alaric availed himself so ably of his position, 
to negotiate with Eutropius, the new minister 
at Constantinople, that he succeeded in obtaining 
the appointment of commander-in-chief of the 
imperial forces in Eastern Illyricum, which he held 
for four years4 During this time he prepared his 
troops to seek his fortune in the western empire. § 
The military commanders, whether Roman or bar- 

* The Albanian colony of Lalla. 

t Zosimus rather contradicts the picture which he had drawn of Alaric 'a 
ravages in Greece, when he represents Stilicho as finding the means of luxury 
and debauchery at hand. v. 7. 

t Greece formed a part of Eastern Illyricum. 

§ Clauihanus, De Be/7. Gil. v. 535. 

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barian, were equally indifferent to the fate of the 
people whom they were employed to defend ; and 
the Greeks appear to have suffered equal oppres- 
sion from the armies of Stilicho and Alaric. 

The condition of the European Greeks underwent 
a great change for the worse, in consequence of this 
unfortunate plundering expedition of the Goths. 
The destruction of their property, and the loss of their 
slaves, were so great, that the evil could only be 
slowly repaired under the best government, and with 
perfect security of their possessions. In the miserable 
condition to which the eastern empire was reduced, 
this was hopeless ; and the mass of the population of 
Greece, never again attained the prosperous condi- 
tion in which Alaric had found it, nor were many of 
the cities which he had destroyed ever again rebuilt. 
The ruin of roads, aqueducts, cisterns, and public 
buildings, which had been erected by the accumu- 
lation of capital in prosperous and enterprising ages, 
was an irreparable loss, which could never be 
repaired by a diminished and impoverished popula- 
tion. History generally preserves but few traces of 
the devastations which affect only the people ; but 
the sudden misery inflicted on Greece was so great, 
when contrasted with her previous tranquillity, that 
testimonies of her sufferings are to be found in the 
laws of the empire, when her condition began to 
excite the compassion of the government, during 
the reign of Theodosius the Second. There is a law 
which exempts, the cities of Illyricum from the 
charge of contributing towards the expenses of the 
public spectacles at Constantinople, as the province 
had been plundered by the hostilities of the Goths, 

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and oppressed by the administration of Alaric. 
There is another law which proves that many estates 
were without owners, in consequence of the depopu- 
lation caused by the Gothic ravages. There is a 
third law, also, which relieves Greece from two-thirds 
of the ordinary contributions to government, in 
consequence of the poverty to which the inhabitants 
were reduced.* 

This unfortunate period is as remarkable for 
the devastation committed by the Huns in Asia, as 
for those of the Goths in Europe, and marks the 
commencement of the rapid decline of the Greek 
race, and of Greek civilisation throughout the 
empire. While Alaric was laying waste the pro- 
vinces of European Greece, an army of Huns from 
the banks of the Tanais, penetrated through 
Armenia into Cappadocia, and extended their 
ravages over Syria, Cilicia, and Mesopotamia. 
Antioch, at last, resisted their assaults, and arrested 
their progress ; but they took many Greek cities of 
importance, and inflicted an incalculable injury on 
the population of the provinces which they entered. 
In a few months they retreated to their seats on the 
Palus Mseotis, having commenced the ruin of the 
richest and most populous portion of the civilized 

* Cod. Tkeodoi. x. t viii. 1. 5 ; xi. 1. 33 ; xii. 1. 172. 

t Philostomius, ix. 8. Lb Beau, Hiitoire du Bai-Empin, v. 101, 


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From the time of Alaric's ravages in the Grecian 
provinces, until the accession of Justinian, the 
government of the East assumed more of a 
national character than at any other period of 
the empire. A feeling that the interests of the 
emperor and his subjects were identical, began 
to become prevalent throughout the Greek popula- 
tion. This feeling was greatly strengthened, by the 
attention which the government paid to improving 
the civil condition of its subjects. The judicial and 
financial administration had received, during this 
period, a greater degree of power, as well as a more 
corporate organization ; and the whole strength of 
the government no longer reposed on the military 
establishments. Rebellions of the army became 
of rarer occurrence, and were usually connected 
with civil intrigues. A slight glance at the history 
of the eastern empire is sufficient to shew, that the 
court of Constantinople possessed a degree of autho- 
rity over its most powerful officers, and a direct 
connection with its distant provinces, which no 
longer existed in the western empire. 

Still, the successful resistance which the eastern 
empire offered to the establishment of the northern 
nations, must be attributed, more to the national 
spirit of the Greek population, aided by their 
geographical position, than to the measures adopted 
by the political government, or to the military force 

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which it possessed. The division of the European 
and Asiatic provinces, opposed physical difficulties to 
invaders, while it afforded great facilities for defence, 
retreat, and renewed attack, to the Roman forces, as 
long as they could maintain a naval superiority. 
These circumstances unfortunately cherished the 
worst vice of the imperial government, at the very 
moment when the evils of the system became appa- 
rent, by rendering money an important element in the 
war, since it was necessary to purchase, for the 
armies, facilities of transport, and means of concen- 
tration, in cases both of danger, defeat, or victory. 
The great distance of the various frontiers, though 
it increased the difficulty of preventing every 
hostile incursion, hindered any rebellious general 
from uniting under his command the whole forces 
of the empire. The control which the government 
was thus enabled to exercise over all its military 
officers, secured a regular system of discipline, by 
centralizing the services of equipping, provisioning, 
and paying the soldiers ; and the direct connection 
between the troops and the government could no 
longer be counteracted by the personal influence 
which a general might acquire, in consequence of a 
victorious campaign. 

The age was one of war and conquest ; yet, with 
all the aspirations and passions of a despotic and 
military state, the eastern empire was, by its 
financial position, compelled to act on the defensive, 
and to devote all its attention to rendering the 
military subordinate to the civil power, in order to 
save the empire from being eaten up by its own 
defenders. Its measures were at last successful ; 

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the northern invaders were repulsed, the army was 
rendered obedient, and the Greek nation was saved 
from the fate of the Romans. The army became 
gradually attached to the government as the source 
of pay and honour ; and it was rather from a general 
feature of all despotic governments, than from any 
peculiarity in the Eastern empire, that the soldiery 
frequently appear strongly attached to the imperial 
power, but perfectly indifferent to the person of 
the despot. The condition of the western empire 
requires to be contrasted with that of the eastern, 
in order to see the danger of the crisis, which the 
government of Constantinople had the ability to 
avert. Yet, even in the West, in spite of all the 
disorganization of the government, the empire 
suffered more from the misconduct of the Roman 
officers, than from the strength of its assailants. 
Even Genseric could hardly have penetrated into 
Africa, unless he had been invited by Boniface, and 
assisted by his rebellion ; while the imperial officers 
in Britain, Gaul, and Spain, who, towards the end 
of the reign of Honorius, assumed the imperial title, 
laid those provinces open to the incursions of the 
barbarians. The government of the western empire 
was really destroyed, and the frame of political 
society was broken in pieces, some time before its 
final conquest had been achieved by foreigners. 
The Roman principle of aristocratic rule was 
unable to supply that bond of union, which the 
national organization of the Greeks furnished in the 

The geographical features of the eastern empire 
exercised an important influence on its fate. Both 

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in Europe and Asia, the extensive provinces are 
bounded or divided by chains of mountains, which 
terminate on the shores of the Adriatic, the Black 
Sea, or the Mediterranean, and which compel all 
invaders to advance by certain well known roads 
and passes. The ordinary communication by land 
between neighbouring provinces, is frequently tedious 
and difficult ; and the inhabitants of many mountain 
districts had retained their national character, 
institutions, and language, almost unaltered, during 
the whole period of the Roman sway. In these 
provinces, the population was active in resisting 
every foreign invader ; and the conviction that their 
mountains afforded them an impregnable fortress, 
ensured the success of their efforts. Thus, the 
feelings and prejudices of the portion of the inhabi- 
tants of the empire, which had always been opposed 
to the Roman government, operated powerfully to 
support the imperial administration. These circum- 
stances, and some others, which acquired strength 
as the general civilization of the empire declined, 
concurred to augment the importance of the native 
population existing in the different provinces of 
the eastern empire, and prevented the Greeks 
from acquiring a moral, as well as a political, 
ascendancy in the distant provinces. In Europe, 
the Thracians distinguished themselves by their 
hardihood and military propensities. In Asia, the 
Isaurians began to occupy, in the history of the 
empire, a place which had been acquired by their 
independent spirit and warlike character. The 
Armenians, the Syrians, and the Egyptians, all 
began to engage in a rivalry with the Greeks, and 

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to contest their superiority even in literary and 
ecclesiastical knowledge. These circumstances ex- 
ercised considerable influence in preventing the 
court of Constantinople from identifying itself with 
the Greek people, and enabled the eastern emperors 
to cling to the maxims and the pride of ancient 
Rome, as they still held the sovereignty over so 
many and various races of mankind. 

The wealth of the eastern empire was a principal 
means of its defence against the barbarians. While 
it invited their invasions, it repulsed their attacks, 
or bribed their forbearance. It was useftdly 
employed in securing the retreat of those bodies of 
barbarians, who, after having broken through the 
Roman lines of defence on the frontiers, found 
themselves unable to seize any fortified post, or to 
extend the circle of their ravages. Rather than run 
the risk of engaging with the Roman troops, by 
delaying their march for the purpose of plundering 
the open country, they were often content to retire 
without committing any disorders, on receiving a 
payment in money, and a supply of provisions. 
These sums were generally so inconsiderable, that it 
would have been the height of folly in the govern- 
ment to refuse to pay them, and thus expose 
its subjects to ruin and slavery; but as it was 
evident, that the success of the barbarians would 
invite new invasions, it is surprising that the 
imperial administration should not have taken better 
measures, to place the inhabitants of the exposed 
districts in a condition to defend themselves, and 
thus secure the treasury against a repetition of this 
ignominious expenditure. But the jealousy with 

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which the Roman government regarded its own 
subjects, was the natural consequence of the oppres- 
sion with which it knew they were ruled ; and no 
danger seemed so great as that of intrusting the 
Greek population with arms. 

The commerce of the eastern empire was the 
chief source of its metallic revenues, and this 
commerce embraced, at this time, almost the trade 
of the world. The manufactories of the East, 
supplied western Europe with many articles of daily 
use, and the merchants of the East carried on an 
extensive carrying trade with central Asia.* By 
means of the Red Sea, the productions of Southern 
Africa and India were collected and distributed by 
the numerous peoples, who inhabited the shores 
within and without the Straits of Babelmandel — 
countries which were then far richer, more populous, 
and in a much higher state of civilization than at 
present. The precious metals, which had become 
rare in Europe, from the stagnation of trade, and 
the circumscribed exchanges which take place in a 
rude society, were still kept in actual circulation by 
the various wants of the merchants, who brought 
their commodities from far distant lands. The 
Island of Jotaba, which was a free city in the Red 
Sea, became a mercantile position of great impor- 
tance; and from the title of the collectors of the 
imperial customs, which were exacted in its port, 
the eastern emperors must have levied a duty of 
ten per cent, on all the merchanise destined for 
the Roman empire, or for western Europe.f This 

* Cod. Theod. xii. 12. 2. 

f Malchi Hit. p. 232, ed. Bonn. The position of Jotaba seems still 

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island was occupied by the Arabs for some time, 
but returned under the power of the eastern empire, 
during the reign of Anastasius.* So great was the 
trade in the Red Sea, in the fifth and sixth centuries, 
that one of the sovereigns of Ethiopia was able 
to collect seven hundred native vessels, and six 
hundred merchant ships with the Roman flag, in 
order to transport his army into Arabia ; and many 
other incidental testimonies exist, proving the great 
extent of this commerce at the commencement of 
the sixth century .f 

As the eastern empire generally maintained a 
decided naval superiority over its enemies, the 
commerce of the empire seldom suffered any serious 
interruption. J The pirates, who infested the 
Hellespont about the year 438, and the Vandals 
under Genseric, who ravaged the coasts of Greece 
in 466 and 475, were more dreaded by the people 
on account of their cruelty, than by the government 
or the merchants, in consequence of their success, 
which was never great.f In the general disorder 
which reigned over the whole of western Europe, 
the only depositories for merchandise that could be 
formed in security, were in the eastern empire. 
The emperors saw the importance of this com- 
mercial influence, and made considerable exertions 
to support the naval superiority of the empire. 
Theodosius the Second assembled a fleet of eleven 
hundred transports, when he proposed to attack the 

• Theophanes, Chron. p. 121, ed. Paris. 

t Acta Martyr, torn. 5, 1042. 

X Mabcellinus, Chron. 

§ Procopius, De Bdlo Vand. 1. 5. Malchus, p. 260, ed. Bonn. 

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Vandals in Africa.* The armament of Leo the 
Great, for the same purpose, was on a still larger 
scale, and formed one of the greatest naval forces 
ever assembled by the Roman power, f 



The ravages inflicted by the northern nations on 
the frontier provinces were so continual, that the 
agricultural population was almost destroyed in the 
countries immediately to the south of the Danube, 
and the inhabitants of Thrace and Macedonia 
greatly diminished. The declining trade caused by 
decreased consumption, poverty, and insecurity of 
property, soon lowered the scale of civilization in 
the whole Greek people. One tribe of bar- 
barians followed another, as long as any thing was 
left to plunder. The Huns, under Attila, laid 
waste the provinces to the south of the Danube for 
about five years, and were only induced to retreat, 
on receiving from the emperor six thousand pounds 
of gold, and the promise of an annual payment of 
two thousand.:): The Ostrogoths, after obtaining 
an establishment to the south of the Danube, as 
allies of the empire, and receiving an annual subsidy 
from the Emperor Martian to guard the frontiers, 
availed themselves of every pretext to plunder 

* A. D. 441. Theophanes, Chro*. 87. 
t A. D. 468. Theophanes, Chron. 99. 
X A. D. 442 to 447. 

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Illyria, Macedonia, Thrace, and Thessaly. Their 
king, Theodoric, proved by far the most dangerous 
enemy that the eastern empire had yet encountered. 
Educated at the court of Constantinople as a 
hostage, he had availed himself of his ten years' 
residence, to study the languages, the politics, and 
the administration of the imperial government.* 
Though he inherited an independent sovereignty 
over the Goths in Pannonia, he sought his fortune 
as a military adventurer in the Roman service, 
and acted as an ally, a mercenary, or an enemy, 
according as circumstances appeared to render the 
assumption of these different characters most con- 
ducive to his own aggrandizement. 

It would throw little additional light on the 
state of the Greeks, to trace minutely the 
records of Theodoric's quarrels with the imperial 
court, or to narrate, in detail, the ravages committed 
by him, or by another Gothic mercenary of the 
same name, in all the provinces, from the shores of 
the Black Sea, to those of the Adriatic. These 
plundering expeditions were not finally terminated 
until Theodoric quitted the eastern empire to 
conquer Italy, and found the Ostrogothic monarchy, 
by which he obtained the title of the Great.f j 

It was certainly no imaginary feeling of respect 
which prevented Alaric, Genseric, Attila, and 
Theodoric, from attempting the conquest of Con- 
stantinople. If they had thought the task as easy 

• A. D. 461 to 471. 

t A. D. 489. The depopulation of the empire was general, and Valens had 
been obliged to seise the monks of the monasteries, in order to raise the 
number of recruits required from Egypt. Cod* Theodou xii. 1. 63. 

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as the subjugation of Rome, there can be no 
doubt, that the eastern empire would have been 
as fiercely assailed as the western, and new Rome 
would have shared the fate of the parent city. 
These warriors could only have been restrained 
by the great difficulties which the undertaking pre- 
sented, and by the conviction, that they would meet 
with a far more determined resistance, on the part of 
the inhabitants, than the corrupt condition of the 
imperial court, and the disordered state of the 
public administration, appeared at first sight to 
promise. Their experience in civil and military 
affairs, revealed to them the existence of an inherent 
strength in the population of the Eastern empire, 
and a multiplicity of resources, which their attacks 
might call into action, but could not overcome. 
Casual encounters often shewed, that the people 
were neither destitute of courage nor military spirit, 
when circumstances favoured their display. Attila 
himself, the terror both of Goths and Romans — the 
scourge of God — was defeated before the town of 
Asemous, a frontier fortress of Illyria. Though he 
regarded its conquest as a matter of the greatest 
importance to his plans, and pushed the siege 
in person with unusual energy, the inhabitants 
baffled all his attempts, and set his power at 
defiance.* Genseric was defeated by the inhabitants 
of the little town of Tsenarus in Laconia.f 
Theodoric did not venture to attack Thessalonica, 
even at a time when the inhabitants, enraged at the 
neglect of the imperial government, drove out the 

• Priscus, p. 143, ed. Bonn. t Procopius, De Bello Vand. i. 22. 

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officers of the emperor, overthrew his statues, and 
prepared to defend themselves against the barbarians, 
with their own unassisted resources.* There is 
another remarkable example of the independent 
Spirit of the Greek people, which saved their 
property from ruin in the case of Heraclea, a city of 
Macedonia. The inhabitants, in the moment of 
danger, placed their bishop at the head of the civil 
government, and intrusted him with power to treat 
with Theodoric, who, on observing their preparations 
for defence, felt satisfied, that it would be wiser to 
retire on receiving a supply of provisions for his 
army, than venture on plundering the country. 
Many other instances might be adduced to prove, 
that the forces of the northern barbarians were 
totally inadequate to overcome a determined resis- 
tance on the part of the Greek nation, and that 
their most powerful ally, within the Roman tei> 
ritories, was the vicious nature of the Roman 

Theodoric succeeded, during the year 479, in 
surprising Epidamnus by treachery ; and the 
alarm which this conquest caused at the court 
of Constantinople, shews, that the government was 
not blind to the importance of preventing any fo- 
reign power from acquiring a permanent dominion 
over a Greek city. The Emperor Zeno offered to 
cede to the Goths the extensive province of 
Dardania, which was, however, almost destitute of 
inhabitants, in order to induce Theodoric to quit 
Epidamnus. That city, the emperor declared, con- 

* Malchus, 255, ed. Bonn. 

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stituted a part of the well peopled provinces of the 
empire, and it was therefore in vain for Theodoric to 
expect that he could keep possession of it * This 
remarkable observation shews, that the desolation of 
the northern provinces was now beginning to compel 
the government of the Eastern empire, to regard the 
countries inhabited by the Greeks, which were still 
comparatively populous, as forming the national 
territory of the Roman empire. 

Even before the Gothic invasions had depopulated 
and laid waste the Greek provinces, the general 
insecurity of property had rendered money rare in 
the agricultural districts. Valens having found 
it impossible to collect the tribute in specie, had 
rendered it payable in kind ; and every subsequent 
emperor saw the wealth of his subjects decreased, 
and not only the country, but the cities, in many 
provinces, fallen into ruins.f 



From the death of Arcadius to the accession of 
Justinian, during a period of one hundred and 
twenty years,! the empire of the East was governed 
by six sovereigns of very different characters, and 
whose reigns have been generally viewed through 
the medium of religious prejudices ; yet, in spite of 

* Malchus, 254, ed. Bonn. ; f Cod. Tkeod. xi. 2. 

t A.D. 408 to 527. 

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the dissimilarity of their personal conduct, the 
general policy of their government is characterized 
by strong features of resemblance. The power of 
the emperor was never more unlimited ; the 
administration of the empire, and of the imperial 
household, was regarded as a part of the sovereign's 
person, while the lives and fortunes of his subjects 
were considered as the property of the state, of which 
he was the master.* But the absolute power of the 
emperor was now controlled by the danger of foreign 
invasions, which afforded to the dissatisfied the means 
of opposing the government, by the power of the 
orthodox clergy, who were strong in the support of a 
great part of the population, and by the fear of divi- 
sions in the church itself, which was now intimately 
connected with the state. The interest of the 
sovereign became thus identified with the sympathies 
of the majority of his subjects ; yet the difficulty of 
deciding what part the emperor ought to take in the 
ecclesiastical disputes of the Arians and the orthodox, 
was so great as, at times, to give an appearance of 
doubt and indecision to the religious opinions of 
several emperors. 

The rapid decline of the Roman power in the 
West, and the ruin of the European provinces of 
the Eastern empire, had created an eager desire to 
remedy, as far as possible, the disorders which had 
placed the empire on the brink of destruction. 
Most of the provinces of the West were inhabited 
by mixed races without union ; the power of the 
military commanders was beyond the control of 

* Cod. Thfod. ix. 14. 3. nam et ipsi pars corporis nostri sunt 

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public opinion ; and neither the emperor, the senate, 
nor the higher clergy, were directly connected with 
the body of the people. In the East, the opinion of 
the people possessed some authority, and it was 
consequently studied and treated with deference. 
The importance of enforcing the most impartial 
administration of justice was so deeply felt by the 
government, that the emperors themselves attempted 
to restrict the application of their legislative power 
to individual and isolated cases. The Emperor Anas- 
tasius even ordered the judges to pay no attention 
to any private rescript, if it should be found contrary 
to the received laws of the empire, or to the public 
good ; and, in such cases, he commanded the judges 
to follow the established laws.* The senate of 
Constantinople possessed great authority in con- 
trolling the general administration, and the depen- 
dent position of its members prevented that authority 
from being regarded with jealousy. The permanent 
existence of this body enabled it to establish fixed 
maxims of policy in the administration, and to render 
these maxims the grounds of the ordinary decisions 
of government. By this means, a systematic admi- 
nistration was firmly consolidated, and its steady 
and permanent regulations became a powerful 
check on the temporary and fluctuating views of 
the sovereign. 

Theodosius the Second succeeded his father Arca- 
dius at the age of eight; and the forty-two years 
during which he governed the empire, he left the 
care of the public administration very much in the 

* Cod. Ju$t. i. 22. 6. 

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hands of others. His education was chiefly directed 
by his sister Pulcheria, who seems, in all her actions, 
to have been guided by sentiments of patriotism 
as well as piety. Theodosius was naturally mild, 
humane, and devout. Though he possessed some 
manly personal accomplishments, his mind and cha- 
racter were deficient in strength. The arts were 
still regarded as a noble occupation, and Theodosius 
cultivated painting with such success, as to render it 
his most remarkable personal distinction ; while his 
Greek subjects, mingling kindness with contempt, 
bestowed on him the name of Kalligraphos. His 
incapacity for business was so great, that he is hardly 
accused of having augmented the misfortunes of his 
reign, by his own personal acts. A spirit of reform, 
and a desire of improvement, had penetrated into 
the imperial administration ; and his reign was dis- 
tinguished by many internal changes for the better. 
Among these, the publication of the Theodosian 
code, and the establishment of the university of 
Constantinople, were the most important. The 
weakness of the emperor, by throwing the direction 
of public business into the hands of the senate and 
the ministers, laid the foundation of that systematic 
administration which characterises the government 
of his successors. He was the first of the emperors 
who was more a Greek than a Roman in his feelings 
and views ; but his inactivity prevented his private 
character from exercising much influence on his 
public administration. 

Marcian, a Thracian of humble birth, of no very 
elevated rank, and who had already attained the age 
of fifty-eight, was selected by Pulcheria to fill the 

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throne on the death of her brother.* He received 
the rank of her husband merely to secure his title to 
the empire. She had taken monastic vows at an 
early age, though she continued to bear, during her 
brother's reign, a considerable part in the conduct of 
public business, having generally acted as his coun- 
sellor.f The conduct of Marcian, after he became 
emperor, justified Pulcheria's choice. He was a 
soldier who loved peace without fearing war. One 
of his first acts was, to refuse payment of the tribute 
which Attila had exacted from Theodosius. His 
reign lasted six years and a half, and was chiefly 
employed in restoring the resources of the empire, 
and alleviating its burdens- In the theological 
disputes which divided his subjects, Marcian at- 
tempted to act with impartiality ; and he assembled 
the council of Chalcedon in the vain hope of esta- 
blishing a system of ecclesiastical doctrine common 
to the whole empire. His attempt to identify the 
Christian church with the Roman empire only 
widened the separation of the different sects of 
Christians ; and the opinions of the dissenters, while 
they were regarded as heretical, began to be adopted 
as national. The Eutychian heresy became the 
religion of Egypt ; Nestorianism was that of Meso- 
potamia. In such a state of things Marcian sought 
to temporize. 

Leo the Elder, another Thracian, was elected 
emperor, on the death of Marcian, by the influence 

* Marcian had been taken prisoner by Genseric when he accompanied 
Aspar with an army to support Boniface. — Procopius, de Bello Vand, lib. i. 

f It is singular to find hereditary rights and celibacy growing up together. 
During the fifth century, it was by no means unusual to take vows, and con- 
tinue to bear an active part in public business. 


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of A spar, a general of barbarian descent, who had 
acquired an authority similar to that which Stilicho 
and iEtius had possessed in the West. Aspar being 
a foreigner and an Arian, durst not himself, notwith- 
standing his influence and favour with the army, aspire 
to the imperial throne ; a fact which proves that the 
political constitution of the government, and the fear 
of public opinion, exercised some control over the 
despotic power of the court at Constantinople. The 
insolence of Aspar and his family determined Leo 
to diminish the authority of the barbarian leaders in 
the imperial service ; and he adopted measures for 
recruiting the army from his native subjects. The 
system of his predecessors had been, to form the best . 
troops entirely from foreign mercenaries; and the 
character of the native recruits had fallen into such 
contempt, that they were ranked in the legislation 
of the empire as an inferior class of military.* Leo 
saw no mode of reforming the army, without 
removing Aspar ; and, despairing of success by any 
other means, he employed assassination; thus cast- 
ing, by the murder of his benefactor, so deep a stain 
on his own character, as to have acquired the 
surname of the Butcher. During his reign, the arms 
of the empire were generally unsuccessful ; and his 
great naval expedition against Genseric, the most 
powerful which the Romans had ever prepared, was 
completely defeated. As it was dangerous to confide 
so mighty a force to any general of talent, Basilicus, 
the brother of the empress, was intrusted with the 
chief command. His incapacity assisted the Vandals 

• Cod, Theodoi. 

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in defeating the expedition quite as much as the 
prudence and talents of Genseric. The Ostrogoths, 
in the meantime, extended their ravages from the 
Danube as far as Thessaly. There appeared also some 
probability, that they would succeed in establishing 
a permanent kingdom in Illyria and Macedonia, 
completely independent of the imperial power. The 
civil administration of Leo was conducted with great 
prudence. He followed in the steps of his pre- 
decessor in all his attempts to lighten the burdens of 
his subjects, and to improve their condition. When 
Antioch suffered severely from an earthquake, he 
remitted the public taxes to the amount of one 
thousand pounds of gold, and granted freedom from 
all imposts, to those who rebuilt their ruined houses. 
In the disputes which still divided the church, he 
adopted the orthodox, or Greek party, in opposition 
to the Eutychians and Nestorians. The epithet of 
Great has been bestowed on him by the Greeks — 
a title, it should seem, conferred upon him rather with 
reference to his being the first of his name, and on 
account of his orthodoxy, than from the pre-eminence 
of his personal actions. He died at the age of 
sixty-three, and was succeeded by his grandson, Leo 
the Second, an infant, who survived his elevation 
only a few months. 

Zeno mounted the throne on the death of his 
son, Leo the Second; for no regular monarchical 
succession was admitted by the Romans. He was 
an Isaurian, whom Leo the Great had selected as 
the husband of his daughter Ariadne, when he was 
engaged in rousing the military spirit of his own 
subjects against the barbarian mercenaries. In the 

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eyes of the Greeks, the Isaurians were little better 
than barbarians ; but their valour had obtained for 
them a high reputation among the troops in the 
capital. The origin of Zeno rendered him unpo- 
pular with the Greeks ; and as he did not participate 
in their nationality in religion, any more than in 
descent, he was accused of cherishing heretical 
opinions. He appears to have been unsteady in 
his views, and vicious in his conduct ; yet the diffi- 
culties of his position were so great, and the 
prejudices against him so strong, that in spite of 
all the misfortunes of his reign, the fact of his 
having maintained the integrity of the eastern 
empire, attests, that he could not have been totally 
deficient in courage and talent; while it warrants 
the inference, that the official aristocracy exercised 
a powerful control over the regular administration. 
About the commencement of his reign, he witnessed 
the final extinction of the western empire, and, for 
many years, the Theodorics threatened him with the 
loss of the greater part of the European provinces 
of the eastern. The imperial government, however, 
even at this crisis, easily maintained its superiority 
over every single enemy, and commanded respect from 
all. When it is remembered, therefore, that Zeno 
was an Isaurian, and a peacemaker in theological 
quarrels, it will not be surprising, that the Greeks, 
who honestly regarded him as a heterodox bar- 
barian, should have heaped many calumnies on his 
memory. His presumption did not go so far as to 
propose to the senate the adoption of his brother as 
his successor. The times were difficult ; his brother 
was more worthless than himself; and the support 

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of the official aristocracy was necessary. The dis- 
posal of the imperial crown was again placed in the 
hands of Ariadne. 

Anastasius secured his election by his marriage 
with Ariadne. He was a native of Epidamnus, 
and sixty years of age when he ascended the 
throne. During his reign, he had to encounter 
some serious seditions, as the empire was involved 
in wars with the Persians, Bulgarians, and Goths. 
Anastasius was more afraid of rebellions and 
seditions, than of defeat; and he sub-divided the 
command of his troops in such a way, that 
success in the field of battle was almost impos- 
sible. In one important campaign against Persia, 
the intendant-general was the officer of highest 
rank in an army of fifty thousand men. Due 
military subordination, and vigorous measures, under 
such an arrangement, were impossible ; and it 
reflects some credit on the organization of the Roman 
troops, that they were enabled to keep the field 
without total ruin. 

Anastasius devoted his most anxious care to 
alleviate the misfortunes of his subjects, and to 
diminish the taxes which oppressed them. He 
constructed the great wall, to secure from destruc- 
tion the rich villages and towns in the vicinity of 
Constantinople, when the barbarians invaded the em- 
pire. This wall extended from the Sea of Marmora, 
near Selymbria, to the Black Sea, forming an arc 
of about forty-two miles, at a distance of twenty- 
eight miles from the capital. The rarest virtue of a 
sovereign is the sacrifice of his own revenues, and, 
consequently, the diminution of his own power, to 

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increase the happiness of his people. The greatest 
action of Anastasius was the voluntary diminution 
of the revenues of the states. He abolished the 
chrysargyron, the most lucrative but oppressive tax 
in the empire, which affected the industry of every 
subject. The increased prosperity which this con- 
cession infused into society, soon displayed its 
effects ; and the brilliant exploits of the reign of 
Justinian, must be traced back to the reinvigoration 
of the body politic of the Roman empire by 
Anastasius. He expended large sums in repairing 
the damages caused by war and earthquakes ; yet, so 
exact was his economy, and so great were the 
revenues of the eastern empire, that he was enabled 
to accumulate, during his reign, three hundred and 
twenty thousand pounds of gold in the public trea- 
sury.* The people had prayed at his accession, that 
he might reign as he had lived; and even in the 
eyes of the Greeks, he would, probably, have been 
regarded as the model of a perfect monarch, had he 
not shewn a disposition to favour heresy. Misled, 
either by his wish to comprehend all sects in the 
established church, — as all nations were included in 
the empire, — or by a too decided attachment to the 
doctrines of the Eutychians, he excited the opposi- 
tion of the orthodox party ; while their domineering 
spirit troubled his internal administration by several 
dangerous seditions, and induced the Greeks to 
overlook his humane and benevolent policy. He 
reigned more than twenty-seven years. 

Justin, the successor of Anastasius, had the merit 

* L.1 3,000,000. Procopius, Hist. Arc. 19. Gibbon, vii. 109. 

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of being strictly orthodox. His reign tended to unite 
more closely the church with the imperial authority, 
and to render the opposition of the heterodox more 
national, in the various provinces where a national 
clergy and a national language existed. Justin 
was a Thracian soldier of fortune, without educa- 
tion, but a man of experience and talents, who, at 
the age of sixty-eight, obtained the imperial crown 
for himself, while employed to secure it for 
another. In his civil government, he imitated the 
wise and economical policy of his predecessor, and 
his military experience enabled him to improve the 
condition of the army. He furnished large sums 
to alleviate the misery caused by a terrible earth- 
quake at Antioch, and paid great ^attention to the 
repairing of the public buildings throughout the 
empire. His reign lasted nine years. 

It must be observed, that the five emperors, of 
whose character and policy the preceding sketch 
has been drawn, were men born in the middling or 
lower ranks of society ; and all of them, with the 
exception of Zeno, had witnessed, as private indi- 
viduals, the ravages of the barbarians in their native 
provinces, and suffered personally from the weak 
and disorganized state of the empire. They had all 
ascended the throne at a mature age, and these 
coincidences tended to imprint on their councils 
that uniformity of policy, which is a marked feature 
in their history. They had all more of the feelings 
of subjects of the empire, than of the dominant 
class, and were, consequently, more Greeks than 
Romans. They appear to have participated in 
public feeling, to a degree natural only to men who 

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had long lived without courtly honours, and rare, 
indeed, even among those of the greatest genius, who 
are born or educated near the steps of a throne. 
That some part of the merit of these sovereigns was 
commonly ascribed to the experience which they 
had gained by a long life, is evident from the reply 
which, it is said, the Emperor Justin gave to the 
senators, who wished him to raise Justinian, at the 
age of forty, to the dignity of Augustus ; " Pray 
God," said the prudent monarch, " that a young man 
may never wear the imperial robes." 

During this eventful period, the western empire 
crumbled into ruins, while the eastern was saved, 
in consequence of these emperors having organized 
the system of administration, which has been 
most unjustly calumniated, under the name of 
Byzantine. The highest officers, and the proudest 
military commanders, were rendered completely 
dependent on ministerial departments, and were no 
longer able to conspire or rebel with impunity. 
The sovereign was no longer exposed to personal 
danger, nor the treasury to open peculation. But 
unfortunately, the central executive power could 
not protect the people from fraud, with the same 
ease as the treasury ; and the emperors never per- 
ceived the necessity of intrusting the people with 
the power of defending themselves from the financial 
oppression of the subaltern administration. 

The principles of political science and civil liberty 
were, indeed, very little understood by the people 
of the Roman empire. The legislative, executive, 
and administrative powers of government were 
confounded, as well as concentrated, in the person 

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of the sovereign. The emperor represented the 
sovereignty of Rome, which, even after the 
establishment of Christianity, was considered as 
something superhuman, if not precisely a divine 
institution. But, so ill can despotism balance the 
various powers of the state, and so incapable is it of 
studying the condition of the governed, that even 
under the best emperors, seditions and rebellions were 
not rare. They constituted the only means whereby 
the people could make their petitions heard ; and 
the moment the populace ceased to be overawed 
by military force, every trifling discontent might, 
from accident, break out into a rebellion. The 
continual abuse, to which arbitrary power is liable, 
was felt by the emperors; and several of them 
attempted to restrain its exercise, in order that the 
general principles of legislation might not be 
violated by the imperial ordinances. Such laws 
express the sentiments of justice which animate the 
administration, but they are always useless ; for no 
law can be of any avail, unless a right to enforce its 
observance exist in some tribunal, independent of 
the legislative and executive powers of the state, 
and the very existence of such a tribunal implies, 
that the state possesses a constitution which renders 
the law more powerfiil than the prince. Much, 
however, as many of the Roman emperors may have 
loved justice, no one was ever found who felt 
inclined to diminish his own authority so far, as to 
render the law permanently superior to his own 
will. A strong impulse towards improvement was 
felt throughout the empire ; and had not the 

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middling and upper classes of society been already 
so far reduced in number, as to make their influ- 
ence almost nugatory in the scale of civilization, 
there might have been some hope of the political 
regeneration of the Roman state. Patriotism and 
political honesty can, however, only become national 
virtues, when the people possess some control over 
the conduct of their rulers, and when the rulers 
themselves publicly announce their political prin- 
ciples, and act on them in private life. 

Erroneous views, also, of political economy, led 
many of the emperors to increase much of the evil 
which they were endeavouring to remedy.* Had 
the Emperor Ariastasius left the three hundred and 
twenty thousand pounds of gold, which he had 
accumulated in the treasury, circulating among his 
subjects, or had he employed it in works extending 
the industry of his people, and adding to the security 
of their property, it is probable, that his reign would 
have very greatly augmented the population of the 
empire, and pressed back the barbarians on their 
own thinly peopled lands. If it had been in his 
power to have added to this boon some guarantee 
against arbitrary impositions on the part of his 
successors, and against unjust exactions on the part 
of the local administration, there can be no doubt, 
that his reign would have laid the foundations of a 
flourishing kingdom ; and that, instead of giving a 
false brilliancy to the reign of Justinian, he would 

* Julian caused a famine at Antioch, by fixing the price at which provi- 
sions were to be sold, and distributing four hundred thousand bushels of 
grain without judgment, as appears from his own account in the Muopogon* 

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have increased the happiness of the most civilized 
portion of mankind, and arrested the decline of the 
eastern empire. 


The ravages of the Goths and Huns in Europe 
and Asia, had effected a great change in the state of 
society in the eastern empire, even though their 
efforts at conquest had been successfully repulsed. 
In many provinces, the higher classes had been 
completely exterminated. The loss of their slaves 
and serfs, who had been carried away by the invaders, 
had either reduced them to the condition of humble 
cultivators, or they had emigrated, and abandoned 
their land to the labourers, from being unable to 
obtain any revenue in the miserable state of 
cultivation, to which the capture of the stock, the 
destruction of the agricultural buildings, and the 
want of a market, had reduced the country. In 
many of the towns, the diminished population was 
reduced to misery, by the ruin of the districts in the 
neighbourhood. The higher classes disappeared under 
the weight of the municipal duties which they were 
called upon to perform. Houses remained unlet ; and 
even when let, the portion of rent which was not 
absorbed by the imperial taxes, was insufficient to 
supply the demands of the local expenditure. The 
labourer and the artizan alone could find bread ; the 
walls of cities were allowed to fall into ruins ; the 

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streets were neglected ; public buildings had become 
useless ; aqueducts remained unrepaired ; internal 
communications ceased ; and, with the extinction of 
the wealthy and educated classes, the local prejudices 
of the lower orders became the law of society. 

In the provinces, the clergy alone were enabled 
to maintain a position, by which they could devote 
some time to study. They accordingly became the 
sole depositaries of knowledge, and as their 
connection with the people was of the most intimate 
and friendly character, they employed the popular 
language to instruct their flocks, to preserve their 
attachment, and rouse their enthusiasm. In this 
way, ecclesiastical literature grew up in every pro- 
vince which possessed its own language and national 
character. The Scriptures were translated into 
every language, and in each country they were read 
and expounded to the people in their native dialect, 
in Armenian, in Syriac, in Coptic, and in Gothic, as 
well as in Latin and Greek. It was this connection 
between the Greek people and their clergy, which 
enabled the church, in the eastern empire, to pre- 
serve a national character, in spite of the exertions 
of the emperors and the popes to give it a Roman 
or imperial organization. Christianity, as a religion, 
was always universal in its character, but the 
Christian church long carried with it many national 
distinctions. The earliest church had been Jewish 
in its forms and opinions, and in the East, it long 
retained a tincture of the oriental philosophy of its 
Alexandrine proselytes. After Christianity became 
the established religion of the empire, a struggle 
arose between the Latin and Greek clergy for 

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supremacy in the church. The greater learning, and 
the more popular character of the Greek clergy, 
supported by the superior knowledge, and higher 
political importance, of the laity in the East, soon 
gave to the Greeks a predominant influence in the 
established church. But this influence was still 
subordinate to the authority of the Bishop of Rome, 
who arrogated the rank of a spiritual emperor, and 
whose claims to represent the supremacy of Rome 
were admitted, though not without jealousy, by the 
Greeks. The authority of the Bishop of Rome, and 
of the Latin element in the established church, as 
the ally of the power of the Roman emperor, was 
so great in the reign of Marcian, that the legate of 
Pope Leo the Great, at the general council of 
Chalcedon, though a Greek bishop, made use of the 
Latin language, when addressing an audience com- 
posed entirely of eastern bishops, and for whom his 
discourse required to be translated into Greek. It 
was inconsistent with the dignity of the Roman 
pontiff to use any language but that of Rome, though 
doubtless Saint Peter had made use of Greek, except 
when speaking with the gift of tongues. Latin, 
however, was the official language of the empire; 
and the Emperor Marcian, in addressing the same 
council of the church, spoke that language, though 
he knew that Greek alone could be intelligible to the 
greater number of the bishops whom he addressed. 
It was fortunate for the Greeks, perhaps also for the 
whole Christian world, that the popes did not, at this 
time, lay claim to the gift of tongues, and address 
every nation in its own language. If it had occurred 
to them that the head of the universal church ought 

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to speak all languages, the bishops of Rome 
might perhaps have rendered themselves the political 
sovereigns of the Christian world. 

The attempt of the popes to introduce the Latin 
language into the East, roused the opposition of all 
the Greeks. The constitution of the eastern church 
still admitted the laity to a share in the election of 
their bishops, and obliged the members of the eccle- 
siastical profession to cultivate the good-will of their 
flocks. In the East, the language of the people was 
the language of religion, and of ecclesiastical litera- 
ture, consequently the cause of the Greek clergy 
and people was united. This connection with the 
people, gave a weight and authority to the Greek 
clergy, who formed the most learned and numerous 
body in the Christian church, which proved extremely 
useful in checking the civil tyranny of the emperors, 
and the religious despotism of the popes. 

Though the state still maintained its supremacy 
over the clergy, and the emperor, as head of the 
state, regarded and treated the popes and patriarchs 
as his ministers, still the church, as a body, had 
already rendered itself superior to the person of the 
emperor, and had established the principle, that 
the orthodoxy of the emperor was a law of the 
empire.* The patriarch of Constantinople, suspect- 
ing the Emperor Anastasius of attachment to the 
Eutychian heresy, refused to crown him until he 
had given a written declaration of his orthodoxy, f 

* The Theodosian code, and particularly the sixteenth book, proves the 
supremacy of the civil power. 

f Eutychcs taught, that iu Christ there was but one nature, namely, that 
of the word, who became incarnate. — Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, 

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Yet the ceremony of the emperors receiving the 
imperial crown from the patriarch, was introduced, 
for the first time only, on the accession of Leo the 
Great, sixty-six years before the election of Anas- 
tasius.* It is true, that the church was not always 
able to enforce the observance of the principle, that 
the empire of the East could only be governed by 
an orthodox sovereign. The aristocracy, and the 
army in the East, proved, at times, stronger than the 
Greek clergy. 

The state of literature and the fine arts always 
affords a correct representation of the condition of 
society among the Greeks, though the fine arts, 
during the existence of the Roman empire, were 
more closely connected with the government and 
the aristocracy, than with popular feelings. The 
assertion, that Christianity tended to accelerate the 
decline of the Roman empire, has been already 
refuted ; but although the eastern empire received 
immeasurable benefits from Christianity, both politi- 
cally and socially, still the literature and the fine 
arts of Greece received from it a mortal blow. The 
Christians soon declared themselves the enemies of 
all pagan literature. Homer, and the Attic trage- 
dians, were prohibited books ; and the fine arts 
were proscribed, if not persecuted. Many of the 
early fathers held opinions which were not uncon- 
genial with the fierce contempt for letters entertained 
by the first Mahometans. It is true, that this anti- 
pagan spirit might have proved temporary, had it 

translated by James Murdock, D.D. Newhaven, U. S. 1832. 3 vols. This- 
excellent translation contains many valuable notes. 
* Gibbon, vi. 192. 

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not occurred at a period when the decline of society 
had begun to render knowledge rarer, and learning 
of more difficult attainment than formerly. 

Theodosius the Younger found the empire in 
danger of not procuring a regular supply of well 
educated aspirants to civil offices ; and, in order to 
preserve the state from such a misfortune, he 
established a university at Constantinople, which 
was maintained at the public expense. The com- 
position of this university demonstrates the impor- 
tant political position occupied by the Greek 
nation, — fifteen professors were appointed to teach 
Greek, grammar, and literature ; thirteen were 
named to instruct in Latin ; two professors of 
law were added, and one of philosophy. Such was 
the imperial university of Theodosius, who did every 
thing in his power to render the rank of professor 
highly honourable. The candidate, who aspired to 
a chair in the university, was obliged to undergo an 
examination before the senate, and it was necessary 
for him to possess an irreproachable moral character, 
as also to prove that his learning was profound. 
The term of twenty years' service secured for the 
professors the title of count, and placed them among 
the nobility of the empire. Learning, it is evident, 
was still honoured and cultivated by a few in the 
East ; but the attention of the great body of society 
was directed to religious controversy, and the 
greatest talents were devoted to these contests, 
which assumed already a political and national cha- 
racter. The few philosophers who kept aloof from 
the disputes of the Christian church, plunged into a 
mysticism more injurious to the human intellect, 

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and less likely to be of any use to society, than the 
most furious controversy. Most of these speculators 
in metaphysical science, abandoned all interest in 
the fate of their country, and in the affairs of this 
world, from an idle hope of being able to establish 
a personal intercourse with an imaginary world of 
spirits. With the exception of religious writings, 
and historical works, there was very little in the 
literature of this period which could be called 
popular. The people amused themselves with 
chariot races, instead of the drama ; and, among the 
higher orders, music had long taken the place of 

The same genius which inspires poetry, is necessary 
to excellence in the fine arts ; yet, as these are 
more mechanical in their execution, good taste may 
be long retained, after inspiration has entirely ceased, 
by the mere effect of imitating good models. The 
very constitution of society seemed to forbid the 
existence of genius. In order to produce the highest 
degree of excellence in works of literature and art, 
it seems absolutely necessary that the author and 
the public should participate in some common feel- 
ings of admiration for simplicity, beauty, and subli- 
mity. When the condition of society places the 
patron of works of genius in a totally different rank 
of life from their authors, and renders the criticisms 
of a small and exclusive circle of individuals the law 
in literature and art, then an artificial taste must be 
studied, in order to secure the applause of those who: 
alone possess the means of rewarding the merit of 
which they approve. The very fact that this taste, 
which the author or the artist is called upon to 

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gratify, is to him more a task of artificial study than 
a creation of natural feeling, must, of itself, produce 
a tendency to exaggeration or mannerism. There is 
nothing in the range of human affairs so completely 
democratic as taste. Demosthenes spoke to the 
crowd ; Phidias worked for the people. 

Christianity engaged in direct war with the arts. 
The Greeks had united painting, sculpture, and 
architecture, in such a way, that their temples formed 
a harmonious illustration of the beauties of the fine 
arts. The finest temples were museums of paganism, 
and, consequently, Christianity repudiated all con- 
nection with this class of buildings until it had 
disfigured and degraded them. The courts of judi- 
cature, the basilics, not the temples, were chosen 
as the models of Christian churches, and the adop- 
tion of the ideal beauty of ancient sculpture was 
treated with contempt. The earlier Fathers of the 
church wished to represent our Saviour as unlike 
the types of the pagan divinities as possible.* 

Works of art gradually lost their value as creations 
of the mind ; and their destruction commenced, 
whenever the material of which they were composed 
was of great value, or happened to be wanted for 
some other purpose more usefiil in the opinion of 
the possessor. The Theodosian Code contains many 
laws against the destruction of works of ancient art 
and the plundering of tombs.f The Christian religion, 
when it deprived the temples and the statues of a 
religious sanction, permitted the avaricious to destroy 
them in order to appropriate the materials; and, 

* Mjllkan's History of Christianity, u. S53. Paris ed. 
+ Cod. Tkeodo$.ix.tit. 17. 

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when all reverence for antiquity was effaced, it 
became a profitable, though disgraceful occupation, 
to ransack the pagan tombs for the ornaments which 
they contained. The clergy of the new religion 
demanded the construction of new churches; and 
the desecrated buildings, falling into ruins, supplied 
materials more easily than the quarries. 

Many of the celebrated works of art, which had 
been transported to Constantinople at its foundation, 
were destroyed in the numerous conflagrations to 
which that city was always liable. The celebrated 
statues of the Muses perished in the time of Arca- 
dius. The fashion of erecting statues had not become 
obsolete, though statuary and sculpture had sunk in 
the general decline of taste ; and the vanity of the 
ambitious was more gratified by the costliness of the 
material, than by the beauty of the workmanship. 
A silver statue of the Empress Eudocia, placed on a 
column of porphyry, excited so greatly the indigna- 
tion of John Chrysostom, that he indulged in the 
most violent invectives against the empress. His 
virulence compelled the government to exile him 
from the patriarchal chair. Many valuable Grecian 
works of bronze were melted down, in order to form 
a colossal statue of the Emperor Anastasius, which 
was placed on a lofty column to adorn the capital.* 
Others of gold and silver may have augmented the 

* Zeno erected an equestrian statue of his ally, Theodorie, in the palace. — 
Jornakdks, Be Reb. Get. 57. The senate of Rome erected a golden statue 
of Theodorie. — 1 si dor, Chron. JEr. 549. Procopius describes a rude Mosaic 
statue representing Theodorie, which soon began to fall to pieces, and was 
considered by the people as an emblem of the Ostrogothic monarchy. Was 
this not probably a Gothic imitation of a chryselephantine statue I— Procop. 
J)e BeU. Goth. i. 24. 

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sums which he laid up in the public treasury. Still 
it is unquestionable, that a taste for painting had 
not entirely ceased among the educated and wealthy 
classes. Mosaics and engraved gems were fashion- 
able luxuries ; but the numbers of the patrons of art 
had decreased in the general poverty, and the pre- 
judices of the Christians had greatly restricted its 

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It happens not unfrequently, that, during long 
periods of time, national feelings and popular insti- 
tutions escape the attention of historians; their 
feeble traces are lost in the importance of events, 
apparently the effect of accident, destiny, or the 
special intervention of Providence. In such cases, 
history becomes a chronicle of fa^ts, or a series of 

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biographical sketches ; and it ceases to yield the 
instructive lessons which it always affords, as long as 
it connects events with local habits, national customs, 
and the general ideas of a people. The history of 
the eastern empire often assumes this form, and is 
frequently little better than a mere chronicle. Its 
historians hardly display national character or popular 
feeling, and only participate in the superstition and 
party spirit of their situation in society. In spite of 
the brilliant events, which have given the reign of 
Justinian a prominent place in the annals of man- 
kind, it is presented to us in a series of isolated and 
incongruous facts. Its chief interest is derived from 
the biographical memorials of Belisarius, Theodora, 
and Justinian ; and its most instructive lesson has 
been drawn from the influence which its legislation has 
exercised on foreign nations. The unerring instinct 
of mankind has, however, fixed on this period as one 
of the greatest eras in man's annals. The actors 
may have been men of ordinary merit, but the events, 
of which they were the agents, effected the mightiest 
revolutions in society. The frame of the ancient 
world was broken to pieces, and men long looked 
back with wonder and admiration at the fragments 
which remained, to prove the existence of a nobler 
race than their own. The eastern empire, though 
too powerful to fear any external enemy, was 
withering away from the rapidity with which the 
state devoured the resources of the people ; and this 
malady or corruption of the Roman government, 
appeared to the wisest men of the age, so utterly 
incurable, that it was supposed to indicate the ap- 
proaching dissolution of the globe. No dawn of a 

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new social organization had yet manifested its advent, 
in any part of the known world. A large portion, 
perhaps the majority of the human race, continued 
to live in a state of slavery ; and slaves were still 
regarded as intelligent domestic animals, not as 
men.* Society was, however, to be regenerated by 
the destruction of slavery ; but, to destroy slavery, 
the free inhabitants of the civilized world were 
compelled to descend to the state of poverty and 
ignorance, in which they had, for ages, kept the 
servile population. The field for general improve- 
ment could only be opened, and the reorganization 
of society could only commence, when universal 
principles of philanthropy were called into action. 

The reign of Justinian is more remarkable as a 
portion of the history of mankind, than as a chapter 
in the annals of the Roman empire, or of the 
Greek nation. The changes of centuries passed in 
rapid succession before the eyes of one generation. 
The life of Belisarius, either in its reality, or its 
romantic form, has typified his age. In his early 
youth, the world was populous and wealthy, the 
empire rich and powerful. He conquered extensive 
realms, and mighty nations, and led kings captive to 
the footstool of Justinian, the lawgiver of civilization. 
Old age arrived ; Belisarius sank into the grave sus- 
pected and impoverished by his feeble and ungrateful 
master; and the world, from the banks of the 
Euphrates to those of the Tagus, presented the awful 
spectacle of famine, plague, and ruined cities, and of 
nations on the brink of extermination. The impres- 

* Oh demons, ita servos homo est ! 

Jutenal, Sat. vi. 221. 

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sion on the hearts of men was profound. Fragments 
of Gothic poetry, legends of Persian literature, and 
the fate of Belisarius himself, still indicate the eager 
attention with which this period was long regarded. 

The expectation that Justinian would be able to 
re-establish the Roman power, was entertained by 
many, and not without reasonable grounds, at the 
time of his accession to the throne ; but, before his 
death, the delusion was utterly dissipated. Anas- 
tasius, by filling the treasury, and remodelling the 
army, had prepared the way for reforming the 
financial administration, and improving the condition 
of the people. Justinian unfortunately employed 
the immense wealth and effective army to which he 
succeeded, in such a manner, as to increase the 
burden of the imperial government, and render 
hopeless the future reform of the system. Yet, it 
must still be observed, that the decay of the internal 
resources of the empire, which proceeded with so 
fearful rapidity in the latter days of Justinian's 
reign, was interwoven with the frame of society. 
For six centuries, the Roman government had ruled 
the East in a state of tranquillity, when compared 
with the ordinary fortunes of the human race ; and 
during this long period, the people had been moulded 
into slaves of the imperial treasury. Justinian, by 
introducing measures of reform, tending to augment 
the powers and revenues of the state, only ac- 
celerated the inevitable catastrophe prepared by 
centuries of fiscal oppression. 

It is impossible to form a correct idea of the 
position of the Greek population in the East, with- 
out taking a general, though cursory view, of the 

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nature of the Roman administration, and observing 
the effect which it produced on the whole population 
of the empire. The contrast presented by the 
increasing endeavours of the government to cen- 
tralize every branch of the administration, and the 
additional strength which local feelings were gaining 
in the distant provinces, is a singular, though 
natural consequence, of the wants of the sovereign, 
and the poverty of the people. The civil organiza- 
tion of the empire had attained its highest degree of 
perfection in the reign of Justinian ; the imperial 
power had secured a practical supremacy over the 
military officers and the beneficed clergy, and 
placed them under the control of the civil depart- 
ments of the state ; the absolute authority of the 
emperor was fully established, and systematically 
exercised, in the army, the church, and the state. 
A century of prudent administration had infused 
new vigour into the government, and Justinian 
succeeded to the means of rendering himself one of 
the greatest conquerors in the annals of the Roman 
empire. The change which time had effected in 
the position of the emperors, from the reign of 
Constantine to that of Justinian, was by no means 
inconsiderable. Two hundred years, in any govern- 
ment, must prove productive of great vicissitudes. 

It is true, that in theory, the power of the 
military emperor was as great as that of the civil 
monarch ; and, according to the phrases in fashion 
with their contemporaries, both Constantine and 
Justinian were constitutional sovereigns, equally 
restrained, in the exercise of their power, by the laws 

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and usages of the Roman empire.* But there i8 
an essential difference between the position of a 
general and a king ; and all the Roman emperors, 
until the accession of Arcadius, had been generals. 
The leader of an army must always, to a certain 
extent, be the comrade of his soldiers; he must 
often participate in their feelings, and make their 
interests and views coincide with his own. This 
community of sentiment generally creates so close 
a connection, that the wishes of the troops exercise 
great influence over the conduct of their leader, and 
temper to them, at least, the arbitrary employment 
of despotic power, by confining it within the usages 
of military discipline, and the habits of military life. 
When the civil supremacy of the Roman emperors 
became firmly established, by the changes which 
were introduced into the imperial armies, after the 
time of Theodosius the Great, the emperor ceased 
to be personally connected with the army, and 
considered himself quite as much the master of 
the soldiers whom he payed, as of the subjects 
whom he taxed. The sovereign had no longer 
any notion of public opinion beyond its existence 
in the church, and its display in the factions of 
the court, or the amphitheatre. The immediate 
effects of absolute power were not, however, 
fully revealed in the details of the admini- 
stration, until the reign of Justinian. Various 
circumstances have been noticed in the preceding 

* Sub libertaU Romana was the expression which marked the regularity 
of the imperial administration, based on rules of procedure and law t as 
opposed to an arbitrary despotism. 

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chapter, which tended to connect the policy of 
several of the emperors, who reigned during the 
fifth century, with the interests of their subjects. 
Justinian found order introduced into every 
branch of the public administration, immense 
wealth accumulated in the imperial treasury, dis- 
cipline re-established in the army, and the church 
eager to support an orthodox emperor. Unfortu- 
nately for mankind, this increase in the power of 
the emperor rendered him independent of the 
good will of his subjects, whose interests seemed to 
him subordinate to the exigencies of the public 
administration ; and his reign proved one of the most 
injurious, in the history of the Roman empire, to the 
moral and political condition of its subjects. In 
forming an opinion concerning the events of Justi- 
nian's reign, it must be borne in mind, that the 
foundation of its power and glory was laid by 
Anastasius, while Justinian sowed the seeds of the 
misfortunes of Maurice ; and, by persecuting the 
very nationality of his heterodox subjects, prepared 
the way for the conquests of the Mussulmans. 

Justinian mounted the throne with the feelings, 
and in the position, of a hereditary sovereign, 
prepared, however, by every advantage of circum- 
stance, to hold out the expectation of a wise and 
prudent reign. Born and educated in a private 
station, he had attained the mature age of forty-five 
before he ascended the throne.* He had received 

• It would answer no purpose to crowd the pages of this little work with 
references to Procopius. The statements in the Anecdotes, the Edifices, and 
the Histories, are too dissimilar to be cited together without explanations. 
Procopius seems a valuable authority even in his Anecdotes. He shews him- 
self equally credulous in his Histories. Audiatur et altera pan. Justinian 

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an excellent education. He was a man of hon- 
ourable intentions, and of a laborious disposition, 
attentive to business, and well versed in law and 
theology ; but his abilities were moderate, his judg- 
ment was feeble, and he was deficient in decision of 
character. Simple in his own habits, he, neverthe- 
less, added to the pomp and ceremonial of the 
imperial court, and strove to make the isolation of 
the emperor, as a superior being, visible in the 
public pageantry of government. Though ambitious 
of glory, he was infinitely more attentive to the 
exhibition of his power, than to the adoption of 
measures for securing the essentials of national 

The eastern empire was an absolute monarchy, of 
a regular and systematic form. The emperor was 
the head of the government, and the master of all 
those engaged in the public service ; but the admini- 
stration was an immense establishment, artfully and 
scientifically constructed in its details.* The nume- 
rous individuals employed in each ministerial depart- 
ment of the state, consisted of a body of men 
appropriated to that special service, which they 
were compelled to study attentively, to which they 
devoted their lives, and in which they were sure to 
rise, by talents and industry. Each department of 
the state formed a separate profession, as completely 

appears to have been descended from a Slavonic family. His father's name 
was Istok, of which Sabbatios is a translation. His mother and sister were 
named Wiglenitza. His own native name was Uprawda, corresponding to 
jut, justUia. Theophilus, In vita Justiniani, Foreign Quarterly Review, 
No. 51. Sclavonian Antiquities. 

* No correct idea of the Roman administration can be formed, without 
consulting the NotUia dignitatum et adminiHrationum, in the excellent edition 
of Dr Backing, Bonnis, 1839, &c. 

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distinct, and as perfectly organized in its internal 
arrangements, as the legal profession is in modern 
Europe. A Roman emperor would no more have 
thought of suddenly creating a financier, or an 
administrator, than a modern sovereign would think 
of making a lawyer. This circumstance explains, at 
once, how education and official knowledge were so 
well preserved in the Roman administration, where, 
as in the law and the church, they flourished long 
after the extinction of literary acquirements in any 
other classes of the people ;* and it affords also an 
explanation of the singular duration of the Roman 
government, and of its inherent principle of vitality. 
If it wanted the energy necessary for its own 
regeneration, which could only have proceeded 
from the influence of a free people on the sovereign 
power, it, at least, escaped the evils of official 
anarchy, and vacillating government. Nothing but 
this systematic composition of the multifarious 
branches of the Roman administration, could have 
preserved the empire from dissolution, during the 
period in which it was a prey to internal wars and 
foreign invasions ; and this supremacy of the system 
over the will of individuals, gave a character of 
immutability to administrative procedure, which 
warranted the boast of the subjects of Constantine 
and Justinian, that they lived under the protection 
of the Roman constitution. The greatest imperfec- 
tion of the government arose from the total want 

• The law of Valentinian, forbidding students to remain in Rome after the 
one and twentieth year of their age, shews that restrictions were put on 
education. The law was apparently enacted to prevent the landed proprietors 
in the provinces, from escaping the payment of the land-tax. 

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of any popular control over the moral conduct of 
the public servants. Political morality, like pure 
taste, cannot live without the atmosphere of public 

The state of society, in the eastern empire, under- 
went far greater changes under the Roman 
government, than the imperial administration. The 
race of wealthy nobles, whose princely fortunes and 
independent bearing had excited the fears and the 
avarice of the early Caesars, had been long extinct 
The imperial court and household now included all 
the higher classes in the capital. The people had 
no position in the state, but that of tax-payers. 
While the officers of the civil, finance, and judicial 
departments, the clergy, and the military, were the 
servants of the emperor, the people, the Roman 
people, were his slaves.f No connecting link of 
common interest, or national sympathy, united the 
various classes as one people, and connected them 
with the emperor. The only bond of union was one 
of universal oppression ; as every thing in the im- 
perial government had become subordinate to the 
necessity of supplying the treasury with money. 
The fiscal severity of the Roman government had, 
for centuries, been gradually absorbing all the 

* When we blame the evils of the Roman government, we ought not to 
overlook the inconveniencies which would result in a declining state of 
society, from the neglect of general interests in large representative assem- 
blies, intent on temporary expedients, and incapable, at such a period, of 
attending to any thing but local claims. A comparison of the administrative 
systems of Rome, Prussia, and the United States of America, might be 
rendered a work of great practical use to statesmen. 

+ The Roman people now consisted chiefly of Greeks ; but Latin seems to 
have been spoken in lllyricum and Thrace by a very numerous portion of the 

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accumulated wealth of society, as the possession of 
large fortunes was almost sure to entail their 
confiscation. Even if the wealth of the higher 
classes in the provinces escaped this fate, it was, by 
the constitution of the empire, rendered responsible 
for the deficiencies which might occur in the taxes 
of the districts from which it was obtained; and 
thus the rich were every where rapidly sinking to 
the level of the general poverty. The destruction 
of the higher classes of society had swept away all 
the independent landed proprietors, before Justinian 
commenced his series of reforms in the provinces. 

The effect of these reforms extended to future 
times, and exercised an important influence on the 
internal composition of the Greek people. In 
ancient times, a very large portion of society 
consisted of slaves or serfs. They formed the great 
body of the rural population ; and as they received 
no moral training, they were inferior, in every 
mental quality, to the barbarians of the north ; but, 
from this very cause, they were utterly incapable of 
making any exertion to improve their condition, and 
whether the province which they inhabited belonged 
to the Romans or Greeks, the Goths or the Huns, 
they remained equally slaves. The oppressive 
system of the Roman financial administration, by 
depressing the higher classes, and impoverishing the 
rich, found the lower order at last burdened with 
the great part of the land-tax. The labourer of the 
soil became an object of great interest to the 
treasury, and, as the chief instrument in furnishing 
the financial resources of the state, obtained almost 
as important a position, in the eyes of the fisc, as the 

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landed proprietor himself. The first laws which 
conferred any rights on the slave, are those which 
the Roman government enacted, to prevent the 
landed proprietors from transferring their slaves 
engaged in the cultivation of lands, assessed for the 
land-tax, to other employments, which, though more 
profitable to the proprietor of the slave, would have 
yielded a smaller, or less permanent return to the 
imperial treasury.* The avarice of the imperial 
treasury, by reducing the mass of the free population 
to the same degree of poverty as the slaves, had 
removed some of the practical inferiority which had 
separated the two classes ; but the position of the 
slave had lost most of its moral degradation, and 
occupied precisely the same political position in 
society as the poor labourer, from the moment that 
the Roman fiscal laws compelled any freeman who 
had cultivated lands for the space of thirty years, to 
remain for ever attached, with his descendants, to the 
same estate.f The mass of the lower orders were, 
from that period, blended into one class ; the slave 
rose to be a member of this body; the freemen 
descended, but his descent was necessary for the 
improvement of the great bulk of the human race, 
and for the extinction of slavery. Such was the 
progress of civilization in the eastern empire. The 
measures of Justinian, which, by their fiscal 
rapacity, tended to sink the free population to the 
same state of poverty as the slaves, really prepared 

• * Cod. Tkeod. xi. tit 3. 1. 2. sine censa vel reliquis fundam comparari non 
posse. Cod. Just. xi. tit 47, 57, De AgricolU et CensitU et Colonii. I am 
inclined to attribute the law of Zeno against private prisons in the provinces, 
in some measure, to a fiscal motive. Tit 5. 
f Cod. Just. xi. tit. 47. 1. 18. Dt Jgricolis, and 1. 23. 1. 

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the way for the general improvement of the human 

Justinian found the central administration still 
aided and controlled by the municipal institutions 
of the Greek cities, and of the numerous corporate 
communities throughout the empire, as well as by 
the religious assemblies of the orthodox and hetero- 
dox congregations. The ancient world still existed. 
Consuls were still named. Rome, though subject to 
the Goths, preserved its senate. Constantinople 
enjoyed all the license of the hippodrome; and 
Alexandria its public distributions of grain. Athens 
and Sparta were still governed as little states, and a 
body of Greek provincial militia still guarded the 
pass of Thermopylae. The Greek cities possessed 
their own revenues, and maintained their roads, 
schools, hospitals, police, public buildings, and 
aqueducts; they pensioned professors and public 
physicians, and kept their streets paved, cleaned, 
and lighted. The people still enjoyed their local 
festivals and games; and though music had sup- 
planted poetry, the theatres were still open for the 
public amusement. 

Justinian defaced these traces of the ancient 
world far more rapidly in Greece, than Theodoric in 
Italy. He was a merciless reformer, and his reforms 
were directed solely by fiscal calculations.* The 
consulate was abolished, to save the expenses 
attendant on the installation of the consuls. The 
Roman senators were exterminated in the Italian 
wars, during which the ancient race of the inhabi- 

* Compare Lkonis Novellw, xlvi. and xlvii. 

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tants of Rome was nearly destroyed.* Alexandria 
was deprived of its supplies of grain, and the Greeks 
in Egypt were reduced in number and consideration. 
Antioch was sacked by Chosroes, and the position 
of the Greek population of Syria permanently 

But it was in Greece itself that the Hellenic 
race and institutions received the severest blow. 
Justinian seized the revenues of the free cities, and 
deprived them of their most valuable privileges. 
The loss of their revenues compromised their 
political existence. Poverty produced barbarism. 
Roads, streets, and public buildings began to be 
neglected. That want of police, which characterizes 
the middle ages, began to be felt in the East. 
Public instruction was neglected for the public 
charities ; the professors and the physicians were 
robbed of the funds destined for their support. The 
municipalities themselves continued to exist in an 
enfeebled state, for Justinian affected to reform, 
but never attempted to destroy them ; and even his 
libeller, Procopius, only accuses him of plundering, 
not of murdering them. The poverty of the 
Greeks rendered it impossible for them to supply 
their municipalities with new funds, or even to 
allow local taxes to be imposed, for maintaining the 
old establishments. At this crisis, the population 
was saved from utter barbarism, by the close 
connection which existed between the clergy and 

* When Rome was repeopled, a senate seems to have again arisen, bat 
it only perpetuated the name, and a mortal blow was given to the power of 
the municipality. The pope assumed the direction of civil affairs, and pre- 
pared the way for his future temporal sovereignty. See GesehiehU dt» 
Roem'wchtn ReehU im MitUlalUr. F. C. Von Savigny, vol. i. p. 867. 

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the people, and the powerful influence of the church. 
The clergy and the magistrates, the people and their 
leaders, in the Greek provinces, were united by 
common language, feelings, and prejudices ; and the 
clergy, as the most powerful class of the community, 
henceforth took the lead in all public business. 
They lent their aid to replace the charitable insti- 
tutions, the means of instruction, and the knowledge 
of the healing art, which was still required ; they 
supported the communal and municipal organization 
of the people ; but, while preserving the local 
feelings of the Greeks, they laid the foundation of a 
general national organization. History supplies few 
materials to illustrate the precise period at which 
the clergy in Greece formed its alliance with the 
municipal organization of the people, independent 
of the political authority ; but the alliance became 
of great national importance, and began to exercise 
permanent effects on the social existence of the 
Greeks, after the municipalities had been im- 
poverished by Justinian's reforms. 


The history of the wars and conquests of 
Justinian is narrated by Procopius, the secretary of 
Belisarius, who waft often an eye-witness of the 
events which he records, with a minuteness which 
supplies much valuable information on the military 
system of the age. The expeditions of the Roman 
armies were so widely extended, that most of the 
nations of the world were brought into direct 

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communication with the empire. During the time 
Justinian's generals were changing the state of 
Europe, and destroying some of the nations which 
had dismembered the western empire, circumstances 
beyond the control of that international system 
of policy, of which the sovereigns of Constanti- 
nople and Persia were the arbiters, produced a 
general movement in the population of central 
Asia. The whole human race was in a state of 
convulsive agitation, from the frontiers of China 
to the shores of the Atlantic. This agitation 
destroyed many of the existing governments, and 
exterminated several powerful nations, while, at 
the same time, it laid the foundation of the power 
of new states and peoples, some of which have 
maintained their existence to the present times. 

The eastern empire bore no inconsiderable part 
in raising this mighty storm in the West, and in 
quelling its violence in the East ; in exterminating 
the Goths and Vandals, and in arresting the 
progress of the Avars and the Turks. Yet, the 
number and composition of the Roman armies have 
often been treated, by historians, as weak and 
contemptible. It is impossible, in this sketch, to 
attempt any examination of the whole military 
establishment of the Roman empire, during Justi- 
nian's reign ; but, in noticing the influence exercised 
by the military system on the Greek population, it 
is necessary to make a few general observations.* 
The army consisted of two distinct classes, — the 
regular troops, and the corps of mercenaries. The 

* Lord Mahon, in his Life of Bditarius, (chap, i.) gives a sketch of the 
Roman armies in Justinian's reign. 

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regular troops were composed, both of native 
subjects of the Roman empire, raised by conscrip- 
tion, and of barbarians, who had been allowed to 
occupy lands within the emperor's dominions, and 
to retain their own usages, on the condition of 
furnishing a fixed number of recruits for the army. 
The Roman government still clung to the great law 
of the empire, that the portion of its subjects which 
paid the land-tax, could not be allowed to escape 
that burden by entering into the army.* The 
proprietors of the land were responsible for the 
tribute, the cultivators of the soil secured the 
amount of the public revenues; neither could be 
permitted to forego their fiscal obligations for their 
military duties. For some centuries it had been 
more economical to purchase the service of the 
barbarians, than to employ native troops ; and, per- 
haps, had not the oppressive system of the imperial 
administration diminished the resources of the state, 
by consuming the capital of the people, this might 
have long continued to be the case.f Native 
troops were, however, always drawn from the 
mountainous districts, which paid a scanty tribute, 
and in which the population found difficulty in 
procuring subsistence. The invasions of the bar- 
barians, likewise, threw numbers of the peasantry 
of the provinces to the south of the Danube, out of 
employment, and many of these entered the army. 
A supply of recruits was likewise obtained from the 

* Citizens were not allowed to possess arms except for hunting and 
travelling. Corpus Juris Civilis. Pand. 48. tit 6. Cod, 9. 12. 
t Observe our own system in India. 

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idle and needy population of the towns.* The most 
active and intelligent soldiers were placed in the 
cavalry, — a force that was drilled with the greatest 
care, subjected to the most exact discipline, and which 
belied not the glory of the Roman arms in the field 
of battle.f As the higher and middling classes in 
the provinces had, for ages, been excluded from 
the military profession, and the army been at 
last composed chiefly of the rudest and most 
ignorant peasants, of enfranchised slaves, and natu- 
ralized barbarians, military service w r as viewed 
with aversion ; and the greatest repugnance arose 
among the civilians to become soldiers. In the 
meantime, the depopulation of the empire daily 
increased the difficulty of raising the number of 
recruits required for a service, which embraced an 
immense extent of territory, and entailed a great 
destruction of human life. 

The troops of the line, but particularly the 
infantry, had deteriorated considerably in Justinian's 
time ; but the artillery and engineer department 
was not much inferior, in science and efficiency, to 

* Slaves were, of course, excluded from military service by the Roman 
laws ; yet, in the decline of the empire, they were sometimes enfranchised in 
order to be admitted as recruits ; and Justinian declares the slave free who 
had served in the army with his master's consent. The enactment proves, 
that slaves were rapidly attaining the level to which the free population had 
sunk. Novell. 81. 

t The cavalry was carefully trained to act on foot, and its steady 
behaviour on dismounting, when surrounded by superior numbers, proves the 
perfection of the Roman discipline, even in the time of Justinian. Proeopius 
mentions this trait in his description of the battle of Callinicum. De Bell. 
Pert. 1.18. Salomon made use of the same formation of the cavalry on 
foot against the African Moors. Vand. book 2. c. 12. It was again 
employed at the battle of Solacon, in the reign of the Emperor Maurice. 
Throphyl actus, Simoc. ii. 4. 

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what it had been in the best days of the empire. 
Its resources, not its knowledge, had diminished. 
The same arsenals continued to exist ; mere 
mechanical skill had been uninterruptedly exercised, 
and the constant demand which had existed for 
military mechanicians, armourers, and engineers, 
had never allowed the theoretical instructions of 
this class to be neglected, nor their practical skill to 
decline, from want of employment. This fact 
requires to be borne in mind.* 

The mercenaries, however, formed the most 
valued and brilliant portion of the army ; and it 
was the fashion of the day to copy and admire the 
dress and manners of the barbarian cavalry. The 
empire was now surrounded by numbers of petty 
princes, who, though they had seized possession of 
provinces once belonging to the Romans, by force, 
and had often engaged in war with the emperor, still 
acknowledged a certain degree of dependence on 
the Roman power. Some of them, as the kings of 
the Heruls and the Gepids, and the king of Colchis, 
held their regal rank, by a regular investiture, from 
Justinian. These princes, and the kings of the 
Lombards, Huns, Saracens, and Moors, all received 
regular subsidies. Some of them furnished a 
number of their best warriors, who entered the 

* The engineers of Theodoric the Great could not be superior to those of 
Justinian, for Theodoric had often been obliged to obtain artists from the 
East ; yet the tomb of Theodoric, near Ravenna, rivals the remains of the 
anti-Homeric times at Mycenae. The circular stone of the dome is 35 
feet in diameter, and weighs 940,0001bs ; yet it is supposed to have been 
brought from the quarries in I stria. See the plates in the Histoire de VArt 
par let Monument, depuis ta Decadence au IV' sicdt, par Serou* 
D'Agincourt, torn. i. pi. xviii. 

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Roman service, and served in separate bands, under 
their own leaders, and with their national weapons, 
but subjected to the regular organization and 
discipline of the Roman armies, though not to the 
Roman system of military exercises and manoeuvres. 
Some of these corps of barbarians were also formed 
of volunteers, who were attracted by the high pay 
which they received, and the license with which 
they were allowed to behave. 

The superiority of these troops arose from natural 
causes. The northern nations who invaded the 
empire, consisted of a population trained from 
infancy to warlike exercises, and following no pro- 
fession but that of arms. The lands which they 
occupied were cultivated by the labour of their 
slaves or subjects, and their only pecuniary 
resources arose from the plunder of their neigh- 
bours, or the subsidies of the Roman emperors. 
Their habits of life, the celerity of their movements, 
and the excellence of their armour, rendered them 
the choicest troops of the age ; and their most 
active warriors were generally engaged to serve 
in the imperial forces. The emperors preferred 
armies composed of a number of motley bands of 
mercenary foreigners, attached to their own persons 
by high pay, and commanded by chiefs who could 
never pretend to political rank, to risking the 
fate of their throne, by intrusting the command of 
a national army to a native general, who, from a 
popular soldier, might become a dangerous rival.* 
We must, however, not forget to observe, that the 

* Justinian, however, sometime* united the civil and military power. 
i\ J. /. 45, 46. 49. NorelL 24—31. 

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barbarian mercenaries in the service of Rome, 
generally proved far more efficient troops than their 
free countrymen ; and that, after all, the native 
Roman cavalry of Justinian's army, the Cataphracti, 
sheathed in complete steel on the Persian model, 
and armed with the Grecian spear, were still the 
best troops in a field of battle, and were the real 
type of the chivalry of the middle ages. 

Justinian weakened the Roman army, in several 
ways, by his measures of reform. His anxiety to 
reduce its expenditure induced him to diminish the 
establishment of camels, horses, and chariots, which 
attended the troops for transporting the military 
machines and baggage, and which was very large, as 
it was calculated to save the peasantry from any 
danger of having their labours interrupted, or their 
cattle seized, under the pretext of being required 
for transport. Numerous abuses were introduced, 
by diminishing the pay of the troops, and making 
the payments with great irregularity. At the same 
time, the efficiency of the army in the field was 
more seriously injured, by continuing the policy 
adopted by Anastasius, of restricting the power of 
the generals ; a policy, however, which, it must be con- 
fessed, was not unnecessary in order to avoid greater 
evils. This is evident from the numerous rebellions 
in Justinian's reign, and the absolute want of any 
national or patriotic feeling in the majority of the 
Roman officers. Large armies were at times com- 
posed of a number of corps, each commanded by its 
own officer, over whom the nominal commander-in- 
chief had little or no authority ; and it is to this 
circumstance that the unfortunate results of some of 

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the Gothic and Persian campaigns are to be attri- 
buted, and not to any inferiority of the Roman 
troops. Even Belisarius himself, though he gave 
many proofs of attachment to Justinian's throne, was 
watched with the greatest jealousy. He was treated 
with constant distrust, and his officers were at times 
encouraged to dispute his measures, and never 
punished for disobeying his orders.* The fact is, 
that Belisarius might, if so disposed, have assumed 
the purple, and perhaps dethroned his master. 
Narses was the only general who was implicitly 
trusted and steadily supported ; but Narses was an 
aged eunuch, and could never have become emperor. 
The imperial military forces consisted of one hun- 
dred and fifty thousand men ; and though the extent 
of the frontier, which these troops were compelled 
to guard, was very great, and lay open to the incur- 
sions of many active hostile tribes, still Justinian 
was able to assemble some admirably appointed 
armies, for his foreign expeditions.! The armament 
which accompanied Belisarius to Africa consisted of 

* Narses had evidently been sent to Italy by Justinian before the conquest 
of Witiges, expressly to watch Belisarius, and guard against his acquiring too 
much personal influence over the troops. The circumstance of officers of 
rank being allowed to maintain a large body-guard of cavalry, the members 
of which swore fidelity to their chief, as well as allegiance to the emperor, is 
a singular fact when contrasted with the imperial jealousy. The guards of 
Belisarius amounted to seven thousand men, after his return from the con- 
quest of Italy. 

f Agathias states, that the military establishment of the empire once 
consisted of 645,000 men. The statement seems to have rested on official 
documents, as it is repeated by another writer. It probably included the 
local militia and the garrisons, as well as the regular army. Agathias, v. p. 
157, ed. Par. Joannes Antiochknus, in Colltctaneis. See the note to the 
Anecdotes o/Procopius, p. 164, ed. Par. and vol. iii. p. 454, of the edition of 
Bonn. Gibbon, i. 27, states the Roman forces, in the time of Hadrian, at 
375,000, a number which seems too small for any tiling but the regular army. 

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ten thousand infantry, five thousand cavalry, and 
twenty thousand sailors. Belisarius must have had 
about thirty thousand troops under his command in 
Italy, before the taking of Ravenna. Germanus, 
when he arrived in Africa, found that only one-third 
of the Roman troops about Carthage had remained 
faithful, and the rebels under Stozas amounted to 
eight thousand men. Aa there were still troops in 
Numidia which had not joined the deserters, the 
whole Roman force in Africa cannot have been less 
than fifteen thousand. Narses, in the year 551, when 
the empire began to shew evident proofs of the bad 
effects of Justinian's government, could assemble an 
army of thirty thousand chosen troops, an army 
which defeated the veterans of Totila, and destroyed 
the fierce bands of Franks and Alamanns which 
hoped to wrest Italy from the Romans. The cha- 
racter of the Roman troops, in spite of all that 
modern writers have said to depreciate it, still stood 
so high, that Totila, the warlike monarch of the 
Goths, strove to induce them to join his standard by 
offers of high pay. None had yet been equal to the 
Romans in the field of battle ; and their exploits in 
Spain, Africa, Colchis, and Mesopotamia, prove their 
excellence ; though the defeats which they sustained, 
both from the Persians and on the Danube, reveal the 
fact, that their enemies were improving in military 
science, and watching every opportunity of availing 
themselves of any neglect of the Roman government, 
in maintaining the efficiency of the army. 

Numerous examples could be cited of the most 
incredible disorder in the armies, — originating 
generally in the misconduct of the imperial govern- 

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ment. Belisarius attempted, but found it impos- 
sible, to enforce the strictest discipline,* when 
the soldiers were unpaid, and the officers autho- 
rized to act independently of his orders. Two 
thousand Heruls ventured to quit his standard in 
Italy, and, after marching round the Adriatic, were 
pardoned by Justinian, and again engaged in the 
imperial service. Procopius mentions repeatedly 
that the conduct of the unpaid and unpunished 
troops ruined the provinces ; and, in Africa, no less 
than three Roman officers, Stozas, Maximin, and 
Gontharis, attempted to render themselves inde- 
pendent, and were supported by large bodies of 
troops.f The Greeks were the only portion of the 
population who were considered as sincerely attached 
to the imperial government, or, at least, who would 
readily defend it against every enemy ; and accord- 
ingly, Gontharis, when he wished to secure Carthage, 
ordered all the Greeks to be murdered without 
distinction. The Greeks were, however, from their 
position and rank in society as burgesses, or tax- 
payers, almost entirely excluded from the army, and, 
though they furnished the greater part of the sailors 
for the fleet, they were generally looked upon as an 
unwarlike population. Witiges, the Gothic king, 
calls the Roman army of Belisarius, an army of 
Greeks, a band of pirates, actors, and mountebanks. 

* At the commencement of his African expedition he executed two Hum 
for killing one of their companions in a drunken quarrel* 

f Constantine, one of the officers of the army in Italy, attempted to assas- 
sinate Belisarius, who had ordered him to restore property which he had plun- 
dered. The African army rebelled against John the patrician. — Corippus, vii. 
50. The garrison of Pctra entered the service of Chosroes. — Procopius, Pert. 
ii. 17. That of Spoleto joined Totila*— Goth. iii. 12 ; see also iv. 26. 

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One of the most unfortunate measures of Justinian 
was the disbanding all the provincial militia. This 
is incidentally mentioned in the Anecdotes of 
Procopius, who informs us, that Thermopylae had 
been previously guarded by two thousand of this 
militia; but that this corps was dissolved, and a 
garrison of regular troops placed in Greece.* The 
measure was probably dictated rather by financial 
motives, than by any fear of popular insurrection ; 
but its effects were extremely injurious to the 
empire, in the declining state of society, and in the 
increasing disorganization of the central power ; and 
it prepared the way for the easy conquests of the 
Avars and Arabs. Justinian was desirous of cen- 
tralizing all power, and rendering all public burdens 
systematic ; and had adopted the opinion, that it 
was cheaper to defend the empire by walls and 
fortresses, than by a moveable army. The prac- 
tice of moving the troops, with great celerity, to 
defend the frontiers, had induced the officers to 
abandon the ancient practice of fortifying a regular 
camp, and, at last, even the art of encamping was 
neglected.* The barbarians, however, could always 
move with greater rapidity than the regular troops 
of the empire. 

To secure the frontiers, Justinian adopted a 
plan of constructing extensive lines, supported by 
innumerable forts and castles, in which he placed 
garrisons, in order that they might be ready to sally 
out on the invading bands. These lines extended 
from the Adriatic to the Black Sea, and were 

• Procopius, Anted. 26. vol. iii. 147, ed. Bonn. Goth. iv. 26. 
+ Menandri. Frag. p. 440, ed. Bonn. 

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farther strengthened by the long wall of Anastasius, 
which covered Constantinople, by walls protecting 
the Thracian Chersonesus, and the Peninsula of 
Pallene, and by fortifications at Thermopylae, and 
at the Isthmus of Corinth, which were all carefully 
repaired. At all these ports, permanent garrisons 
were maintained. The eulogy of Procopius on the 
public edifices of Justinian, seems almost irrecon- 
cilable with the events of the latter years of his 
reign ; for Zabergan, the Bulgarian monarch, pene- 
trated through breaches he found unrepaired in the 
long wall, and advanced almost to the very suburbs 
of Constantinople. In this crisis, the neglect with 
which the emperor had treated the troops, and the 
abuses which he had permitted in the formation of his 
corps of guards, most of whom had purchased their 
rank as a title to rations, exposed the empire to the 
greatest danger. Belisarius was, fortunately, still 
living; he soon assembled a number of veterans 
sufficient to compel the Bulgarians to effect a pre- 
cipitate retreat.* 

Another instance of the declension of military 
tactics may be mentioned, as it must have origi- 
nated in the army itself, and not in consequence of 
any arrangements of the government. The com- 
bined manoeuvres of the divisions of the regiments 
had been so neglected, that the bugle-calls once 
used had fallen into desuetude, and were unknown 
to the soldiers. The motley recruits, of dissimilar 
habits, could not acquire, with the requisite rapidity, 

* The account Agathias gives of this expedition, is adorned with too many 
rlietoricaJ flights to be received literally. 

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a perception of the delicacy of the ancient music, 
and the Roman infantry no longer moved 

In perfect phalanx, to the Dorian mood, 
Of Antes and soft recorders. 

It happened, during the war with the Goths in 
Italy, that Belisarius was placed in difficulty, from 
the want of an instantaneous means of communi- 
cating orders to the troops engaged in skirmishing, 
during the siege of Auximum. On this occasion, 
it was suggested to him by Procopius, to replace 
the forgotten bugle calls, by making use of the 
brazen trumpet of the cavalry to sound a charge, 
and of the infantry bugle, to summon a retreat.* 

Foreigners were preferred by the emperors, as the 
occupants of the highest military commands; and 
the confidence with which the barbarian chiefs were 
honoured by the court, enabled many to reach the 
highest rank in the army. Narses, the most dis- 
tinguished military leader after Belisarius, was a 
Pers-Armenian captive. Peter, who commanded 
against the Persians in the campaign of 528, was 
also a Pers-Armenian. Phuras, who besieged Gelimer 
in Mount Pappua, was a Herul. Mondon, who 
commanded in Illyria and Dalmatia, was a Gepid 
prince. Hilbud, who, after several victories, per- 
ished with his army in defending the frontiers 
against the Sclavonians, was of northern descent, as 
may be inferred from his name. Salomon, who 
governed Africa with great courage and ability, was 

* Procopius, Goth. ii. 24. The bugle of the infantry was composed o* 
wood and leather. 

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a eunuch from Dara. Artaban was an Armenian 
prince. John Troglita, the patrician, the hero of 
the poem of Corippus, called the Johannid, is also 
supposed to have been an Armenian.* Yet the 
empire might still have furnished excellent officers, 
as well as valiant troops; for the Isaurians and 
Thracians continued to distinguish themselves in 
every field of battle, and were equal in courage to 
the fiercest of the barbarians. 

It became the fashion in the army to imitate the 
manners and habits of the barbarians; their head- 
long personal courage became the most admired 
quality, even in the highest rank; and nothing 
tended more to hasten the progress of the decay of 
the military art. The officers in the Roman armies 
became more intent on distinguishing themselves 
for personal exploits, than for exact order and 
strict discipline, maintained in their corps. Even 
Belisarius himself appears, at times, to have forgotten 
the duties of a general, in his eagerness to exhibit 
his personal valour on his bay charger; though 
he may, on such occasions, have considered, that 
the necessity of keeping up the spirits of his army 
was a sufficient apology for his rashness. Unques- 
tionably the army, as a military establishment, had 
declined in excellence ere Justinian ascended the 
throne, and his reign tended to sink it much lower ; 
yet it is probable, that it was never more remark- 

* Lb Bkau, HUtoire du Bat-Empire, torn. ix. 91. 93. Notts de Saint Martin. 
Many more might be added. John, the Armenian, killed in the pursuit of 
Gelimer. Akoum, a Hun, commanded the troops in Illyria. — Theoph. p. 184. 
Peran, son of a king of Iberia ; Bessaa, a Goth, but subject of the empire ; 
Isac, an Armenian ; Philemuth, a Hun, were all generals. See the Index 
to Procopius. 

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able for the enterprising valour of its officers, or for 
their personal skill in the use of their weapons. 
The death of numbers of the highest rank, in battles 
and skirmishes, in which they rashly engaged, proves 
this fact. There was, however, one important fea- 
ture of ancient tactics still preserved in the Roman 
armies, which gave them a decided superiority over 
their enemies. They had still the confidence in 
their discipline and skill to form their ranks, and 
encounter their opponents, in line; the bravest of 
their enemies, whether on the banks of the Danube 
or the Tigris, only ventured to charge them, or 
receive their attack in close masses.* 



The Greeks long remained strangers to the 
Roman law. The free cities continued to be 
governed by their own legal systems and local 
usages, and the Greek lawyers did not consider it 
necessary to study the civil law of their masters. 
But this state of things underwent a great modifica- 
tion, after Constantino had rendered Latin the 
official language of the East, and transformed the 
Greek town of Byzantium into the Roman city of 
Constantinople. The imperial administration, after 
that period, came into more immediate connection 
with its eastern subjects ; the legislative power of 
the emperors was more frequently exercised in the 

* Even the rebel troops in Africa, fought in bands, like barbarians, and 
aot in regular ranks, like Romans. 


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regulation of provincial business ; and the Christian 
church, by uniting the whole Greek population into 
one body, often called forth general measures of 
legislation. While the confusion arising from the 
incongruity of old laws to the new exigencies of 
society was generally felt, the increasing poverty, 
depopulation, and want of education in the Greek 
cities, rendered it difficult to maintain the ancient 
tribunals. The Greeks were often compelled to 
study at the universities where Roman jurisprudence 
alone was cultivated, and thus the municipal law 
courts were at last guided in their decisions by the 
rules of Roman law. As the number of the native 
tribunals decreased, their duties were performed by 
judges named by the imperial administration; and 
thus, Roman law, silently, and without any violent 
change or direct legislative enactment, was generally 
introduced into Greece. 

Justinian, from the moment of his accession to 
the throne, devoted his attention to the improve- 
ment of every department of government, and 
carried his favourite plan, of centralizing the direc- 
tion of the complicated machine of the Roman 
administration in his own person, as far as possible. 
The necessity of condensing the various authorities 
of Roman jurisprudence, and of reducing the mass 
of legal opinions of eminent lawyers into a system of 
legislative enactments, possessing unity of form, and 
facility of reference, was deeply felt. Such a system 
of legislation is useful in every country; but it 
becomes peculiarly necessary, after a long period of 
civilization, in an absolute monarchy, in order to 
restrain the decisions of legal tribunals by published 

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law, and prevent them from assuming arbitrary 
power, under the pretext of interpreting obsolete 
edicts and conflicting decisions. A code of laws, to 
a certain degree serves as a barrier against despo- 
tism, for it supplies the people with the means of 
calmly confuting the acts of their government, and 
the decisions of their judges, by the principles of 
their laws; and, at the same time, it is a useful 
ally to the absolute sovereign, as it supplies him 
with increased facilities for detecting legal injustice 
committed by his official agents. 

The faults or merits of Justinian's system of laws 
belong to the lawyers intrusted with the execution 
of his project, but the honour of having commanded 
this work, may be ascribed to the emperor alone. 
It is to be regretted, that the position of an absolute 
sovereign is so liable to temptation from passing 
events, that Justinian himself could not refrain from 
injuring the surest monument of his fame, by later 
enactments, which mark too clearly, that they ema- 
nated either from his own increasing avarice, or from 
weakness in yielding to the passions of his wife or 
courtiers. It could not be expected, that his political 
sagacity could have devised the necessity of securing 
the rights of his subjects against the arbitrary exer- 
cise of his own power ; but he might have consecrated 
the great principle of equity, that legislation can 
never act as a retrospective decision ; and he might 
have ordered his magistrates to adopt the oath of 
the Egyptian judges, who swore, when they entered 
on office, that they would never depart from the 
principles of equity, (law,) and that if the sovereign 
ordered them to do wrong, they would not obey. 

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Justinian, however, was too much of an eastern 
despot, and too little of a statesman, to proclaim 
the law, even while retaining the legislative power 
in his person, to be superior to the executive branch 
of the government. But, in maintaining that the laws 
of Justinian might have been rendered more perfect, 
and have been framed to confer greater benefits on 
mankind, it is not to be denied, that the work is one 
of the most remarkable monuments of human wis- 
dom ; and we should remember, with gratitude, that 
for thirteen hundred years, the Pandects served as 
the magazine, or source, of legal lore, and constitu- 
tion of civil rights, to the Christian world, both in 
the East and in the West. 

The government of Justinian's empire was Roman, 
its official language was Latin. Oriental habits and 
usages, as well as time and despotic power, had, 
indeed, introduced modifications in the old forms ; 
but it would be an error to consider the imperial 
administration as having a Greek character. The 
accident of the Greek language having become the 
ordinary dialect in use at court, of Greek munici- 
palities existing and exerting their influence on 
society, and of the church in the eastern empire 
being deeply tinctured with Greek national feelings, 
is apt to create an impression, that the eastern 
empire had lost something of its Roman pride, in 
order to adopt a Greek character. The circumstance 
that its enemies often reproached it with being Greek, 
may be received as a proof that the imputation was 
viewed as an insult. As the administration was 
entirely Roman, the laws of Justinian, the code, the 
pandects, and the institutions, were published in 

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Latin, though many of the later decrees (novells) 
were written in Greek. Nothing can illustrate, in 
a stronger manner, the artificial and anti-national 
position of the eastern Roman empire at Constanti- 
nople, than this fact, that the Latin language was 
used in the promulgation of a system of laws for 
an empire, in which it was spoken by a small 
portion of the inhabitants, the language of whose 
church and literature was Greek. Latin was pre- 
served in official business, and in public ceremo- 
nials, from feelings of pride connected with the 
ancient renown of the Romans, and the dignity of 
the Roman empire. So strong is the hold which 
antiquated custom maintains over the minds of 
men, that even a professed reformer, like Justinian, 
could not break through so irrational a usage, as the 
publication of the laws for his people, in a language 
incomprehensible to most of those for whose use 
they were framed. 

The laws and legislation of Justinian throw only 
an indistinct and vague light, on the state of the 
Greek population. They were drawn entirely from 
Roman sources, calculated for a Roman state of 
society, and occupied with Roman forms and 
institutions. Justinian was so anxious to preserve 
them in all their purity, that he adopted two 
measures to secure them from alteration. The 
copyists were commanded to refrain from any 
abridgment, and the commentators were ordered to 
follow the literal sense of the laws. All schools of 
law were likewise forbidden, except those of 
Constantinople, Rome, and Berytus, a regulation 
which must have been adopted to guard the Roman 

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law from being corrupted, by falling into the hands 
of Greek teachers, and becoming confounded with 
the customary law of the various Greek provinces.* 
This restriction, the importance attached to it by 
the emperor, and the small number of legal students 
who could receive their education at the three 
licensed universities, — one of which (that of Rome) 
was, moreover, at the time of the publication of the 
law, under the dominion of the Goths, — prove that 
the Roman law, though that of the administra- 
tion, was not the universal rule of conduct in the 
empire. Justinian took every measure which 
prudence could dictate, to secure the best and 
purest legal instruction and administration for the 
Roman tribunals ; but it was not his object to force 
the Roman law on those classes who were not yet 
governed or guided by it. Nothing proves more 
completely than this fact, that Justinian was, in his 
reforms and improvements, guided by the ancient 
spirit of the Roman government. Had the Roman 
law been universal in the cities and islands of 
Greece, the people certainly would not have been 
condemned to seek their sole legal education at so 
great a distance. The judges sent from the capital 
decided according to the Roman law — the municipal 
magistrates followed local usages. 

Justinian's laws were very soon translated into 
Greek, without the emperor's requiring that these 
paraphrases should be literal ; and Greek commen- 
taries of an explanatory nature were published. 
This very circumstance seems, indeed, to argue, 

* Const, ad Anteceuoru. 

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that there must have existed an extensive basis of 
Greek law, resting on usages and rules drawn from 
different sources, and which exercised a powerful 
influence on the Greek population. Had Justinian 
intended to impose the Roman law on the Greeks, 
it would have been published by him in an official 
Greek copy. His novells were subsequently so 
published, when the case required it. It is evident, 
nevertheless, that the remains of Greek law were 
confined to the municipalities, and were rapidly 
yielding to the superior system of Roman legislation, 
perfected as this was by the judicious labours of 
Justinian's counsellors. Some modification was 
made, in the jurisdiction of the Roman judges and 
municipal magistrates, at this time ; and we must 
admit the testimony of Procopius as a proof, that 
Justinian sold judicial offices, and made a traffic of 
justice, though the vagueness of the accusations do 
not afford us the means of ascertaining under what 
pretext the change in the earlier system was 
adopted. The extent of the jurisdiction of the city 
magistrates, and the share which the people retained 
in their election, are subjects which ought to invite 
the investigation of the lawyers of the new 
university of Athens. As a general rule, it is 
doubtful whether the municipal senates of the 
Greek cities had acquired the right of administering 
the local affairs of the community, exclusively 
of all popular control. The existence of Greek 
corporations in Italy, shews that the Greeks 
possessed a separate and acknowledged national 
existence in the Roman empire ; for, it is with 
reference to privileges having a local, aijd strictly 

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Greek origin, that the term of a Greek corporation 
could alone be used. No Greek holding an official 
situation, would have permitted himself to be styled 
any thing but a Roman,* 



The internal administration of Justinian was 
remarkable for religious intolerance and financial 
rapacity.f Both assisted in increasing a deep- 
rooted hatred of the imperial power throughout the 
provinces, and his successors soon experienced the 
bitter effects of his policy. Even the commence- 
ment of his own reign gave some alarming mani- 
festations of the general feeling. The celebrated 
sedition of the Nika, though it broke out among 
the factions of the amphitheatre, acquired its 
importance, and spread, in consequence of popular 
dissatisfaction with the fiscal measures of the 
emperor. This sedition possesses an unfortunate 
celebrity in the annals of the empire, from the 
destruction of many public buildings, and nume- 
rous works of ancient art, occasioned by the 
conflagrations raised by the rebels. Belisarius 
succeeded in suppressing it with considerable 
difficulty, after much bloodshed, and not until 

* QctckichU de$ Eoemueken Rechts im Mtitdalter. Von F. C. ton 
Savigny, i. 340. I venture to draw a much stronger line of distinction than 
the learned author, with reference to Schola Greeca. It would have been 
absolutely an insult to the eastern empire, to term any thing officially 
connected with it, Greek. 

f Eyaqbius, iv. 29. Procopius, Anted, 1 1. 

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Justinian had felt his throne in imminent danger. 
The alarm produced a lasting impression on his 
mind ; and more than one instance occurred during 
his reign, to remind him, that popular sedition puts 
a limit to despotic power. At a subsequent period, 
an insurrection of the people compelled him to 
abandon a project for recruiting the imperial 
finances, according to a common resource of arbi- 
trary sovereigns, by debasing the value of the coin.* 

We possess only scanty materials for describing 
the condition of the Greek population, during the 
reign of Justinian. The peculiarities which existed 
in the relations of the Greek provinces and cities with 
the central administration, had endured for ages, — 
slowly undergoing the changes produced by time, 
but without the occurrence of any revolution which 
called for a general measure of reform, explanatory 
of the whole system. But, though our information 
is defective in minuteness of detail, and offers many 
points which demand the investigation of the 
learned, still it presents a historical picture, com- 
plete in the accuracy of its general outline. 

The colossal fabric of the Roman government 
embraced not only a numerous imperial court and 
household, an innumerable host of administrators, 
finance agents, and judges, a powerful army and navy, 
and a splendid church establishment; it also conferred 
the privilege of titular nobility on a large portion 
of the higher classes, both on those who were 
selected to fill local offices in connection with the 
public administration, and on those who had held 

* Malaljc Ch. J ara. ii. p. 80, ed. Ven. 

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public employments, during some period of their 
lives. The titles of this nobility were official ; its 
members were the creatures of government, attached 
to the imperial throne by ties of interest; they 
were exempted from particular taxes, separated 
from the body of the people by various privileges, 
and formed, from their great numbers, rather a 
distinct nation, than a privileged class. They were 
scattered over all the provinces of Justinian's 
empire, from the Atlantic to the Euphrates, and 
constituted, at this period, the real nucleus of civil 
society in the Roman world. Of their influence, 
many distinct traces may be found, even after the 
extinction of the Roman power, both in the East 
and in the West.* 

The population of the provinces, and more 
especially the proprietors and cultivators of the soil, 
stood completely apart from these representatives 
of the Roman supremacy, and almost in a state of 
direct opposition to the government. The weight 
of the Roman yoke had pressed down all the 
provincials to nearly the same level. As a general 
rule, they were excluded from the profession of 
arms;f their poverty had now caused them to 
neglect the cultivation of arts, sciences, and 

* Noiitia Dipiitatum, ed. Boecking. Lydus de Magittratibu* Reipub. 
Romance, ii. 13. C. T. vi. tit. 5. C. J. xii. 8. " Ut dignitatem ordo 
servetur." The prefect of Africa was allowed by Justinian to have three 
hundred and ninety-six officers and clerks, and each of his lieutenants and 
deputies, fifty. Cod. Just. i. 27. 3. Arcadius had forbidden the Comes of 
the Orient, who was under the orders of prefect of the East, to have more 
than six hundred. Just. C. xii. 57. Compare Lactantius, De Mori. Pen. 
7. 4. Manso, Leben Con$tant\ut 9 p. 139. 

t Some of the states of Greece had preserved their local militia even to 
Justinian's time, as~appears from the existence of the provincial guard for 
the defence of Thermopylae, which he disbanded. Peocopius, Anec. 

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literature, and their whole attention was absorbed 
in watching the increasing rapacity of the imperial 
treasury, and in finding means to evade the 
oppression which they saw no possibility of resisting. 
The land and capitation taxes formed the source 
of this oppression. No taxes were, perhaps, more 
equitable in their general principle, and few appear 
ever to have been administered, for so long a period, 
with so unfeeling prudence. Their severity had 
been so gradually increased, that but a very small 
annual encroachment had been made on the wealth 
of the empire, and centuries elapsed before its 
whole accumulated capital was consumed. 

The manner of collecting the land and capitation 
taxes, displays singular ingenuity in the mode of 
estimating the value of the property to be taxed, 
and an inhuman sagacity, in framing a system 
capable of extracting the last farthing which that 
property could yield. Registers of the whole 
property and population of the empire, had been 
established by Julius Caesar, extended by Augustus, 
and remodelled by Diocletian and Constantino. 
These registers underwent a public revision every 
fifteenth year, but the amount of the land-tax and 
capitation was annually fixed by an imperial 
ordinance. The whole empire had been surveyed, 
and divided into capita, or hides of land.* The 
proprietors of these capita were grouped together 
in communities, the wealthier members of which 

* The capita were not only assessed at different amounts, in the different 
provinces, according to circumstances, but even in the same provinces, where 
they were assessed at the same amount, their size would differ according to 
the fertility of the district. They corresponded to the modern {wye^t*. 

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were formed into a permanent magistracy, and 
rendered liable for the amount of the taxes due 
by their community. The same law of respon- 
sibility was applied to the senates and magistrates 
of cities and free states. Confiscation of private 
property had, from the earliest days of the 
empire, been regarded as an important financial 
resource. In the days of Tiberius, the nobles of 
Rome, whose power, influence, and character 
alarmed the jealous tyrant, were swept away. Nero 
attacked the wealthy to fill his exhausted treasury ; 
and from that time to the days of Justinian, the 
richest individuals in the capital and the provinces, 
had been systematically punished for every offence, 
by the confiscation of their fortunes. The pages of 
Suetonius and Tacitus, of Zosimus and Procopius, 
attest the extent and duration of this war against 
private wealth. Now, in the eyes of the Roman 
government, the greatest political offence was the 
failure to perform a public duty; and the most 
important duty of a Roman subject had long been, 
to furnish the amount of taxes required by the 
state. The increase of the public burdens at last 
proceeded so far, that every year brought with it a 
failure in the taxes of some province, and, conse- 
quently, the confiscation of the private property of 
the wealthiest citizens of the insolvent district ; 
until, at last, all the proprietors and cultivators 
were reduced to nearly the same level. The poor 
and ignorant inhabitants of Greece forgot the 
literature and arts of their ancestors ; and as they 
had no longer any thing to sell, or the means of 
purchasing foreign commodities, money ceased to 

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circulate, and silver and gold became rare. We 
shall afterwards see how the orthodox church saved 
the Greek nation from barbarism, and how com- 
merce saved the Roman empire from immediate 
ruin, and the Greeks from extermination. 

But, though the proud aristocracy, and the 
wealthy votaries of art, literature, and philosophy, 
had totally disappeared ; and though the independent 
citizens and proprietors now stood scattered over 
the provinces as isolated individuals, without 
exercising any direct influence on the character of 
the age, still the external frame-work of ancient 
society continued to exist, with some portion of its 
pomp and greatness. The decay of its majesty and 
strength was felt ; mankind perceived the approach 
of a mighty change, but the revolution had not yet 
arrived ; the past glory of Greece and Rome shed 
their colouring on the unknown future, and the 
dark shadow, which that future now throws back 
when we contemplate Justinian's reign, was then 

The institutions of civilized society continued to 
exist among the Greek population; and property, 
though crumbling away under a system of slow 
corrosion, was regarded, by public opinion, as secure 
against lawless violence, or indiscriminate confisca- 
tion ; and it really was so, when a comparison is made 
between the condition of a subject of the Roman 
empire, and a proprietor of the soil in any other 
country of the then known world. If there was 
much evil in the state of society, there was also 
some good; and when contemplating it from our 
modern social position, we must never forget, that 

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the same causes which destroyed the wealth, arts, 
literature, and civilization of the Romans and 
Greeks, began to eradicate, from among mankind, 
the greatest degradation of our species, — the exis- 
tence of slavery. 

Greece presented a singular spectacle in the reign 
of Justinian. The Greeks, as a people, had lost all 
their superiority over the other subjects of the 
Roman empire. The schools of philosophy, which 
had afforded the last refuge for the ancient litera- 
ture of the country, had long before fallen into 
neglect, and were on the very eve of extinction, when 
Justinian commemorated the epoch of their expira- 
tion, and closed them by a public edict. The 
increasing poverty and ignorance of the inhabitants 
of Greece had, on the one hand, totally separated 
the philosophers from the people ; but, on the other, 
they had arrested the progress of Christianity in the 
thinly peopled districts, and paganism continued to 
exist in the retired mountains of the Peloponnesus. 
Those principles of separation, which originated in 
non-communication of ideas and interests, and 
which now began to give the Roman empire the 
aspect of an agglomoration of nations, rather than 
the appearance of a single state, operated as power- 
fully on the Greek people, as on the Egyptian, 
Syrian, and Armenian population. The impo- 
verished landed proprietors, and needy cultivators 
of the soil — the wealthy and independent merchants 
— and the servile placemen, and dependents on the 
imperial administration, — formed themselves into 
three distinct classes of society, and began to lay 
the foundations of the social and political constitu- 

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tion of the Greek people, which, under a variety of 
modifications, but without any radical change, con- 
tinued to subsist, until the present century opened 
a new career to the mental energies of the nation. 
A strong line of distinction was created between the 
Greeks in the service of the empire, and the body 
of the people, both in the towns and country. 
The mass of the Greeks naturally participated 
in the general hostility to the Roman administra- 
tion ; yet the immense numbers of them who 
were employed in the state, and in the highest 
dignities of the church, neutralized the popular 
opposition, and prevented the Greek nation from 
aspiring at a political existence connected with 
national independence. 

It has been already observed, that Justinian 
restricted the powers, and diminished the revenues, 
of the Greek municipalities ; but that these cor- 
porations continued to exist, though shorn of their 
former splendour. Still, in attempting to form 
some idea of the aspect and character of the Greek 
population, of the Greek cities, and of the classic 
land of the Hellenes, in the reign of Justinian, we 
must look back to preceding times, and compare it 
rather with the days of Alexander the Great, than 
with the times of Mahommed the Second. All the 
splendid monuments of Grecian architecture, and 
many of the most beautiful works of Grecian art, 
still adorned the Agora and the Acropolis of every 
city in Greece. Where the ancient walls were 
falling into decay, and the untenanted buildings 
presented an aspect of ruin, they were cleared away 
to construct the new fortifications, the churches, 

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and the monasteries, with which Justinian covered 
the empire. The hasty construction of these build- 
ings, rapidly erected from the stone and mortar 
furnished by the ancient structures around, accounts 
both for their number, and for the facility with which 
time has effaced almost every trace of their exist- 
ence. Still, even in architecture, the Roman empire 
displayed some traces of its greatness; and the 
church of St Sophia, and the aqueduct of Constan- 
tinople, still attest the superiority of Justinian's age, 
to the subsequent periods, both in the East and 
. in the West.* 

But this superiority of the Greek population over 
the other inhabitants of the world, must at this 
time have been most remarkable, in their regula- 
tions of internal government and police administra- 
tion. Public roads were still maintained in a 
serviceable state, though not equal in appearance, 
or solidity of construction, to the Appian Way in 
Italy, which excited the admiration of Procopius.f 
Streets were kept in repair by the proprietors of the 
houses forming them, t The astynomoi and the 
agoranomoi were still elected, but their number 
often indicated the former greatness of a diminished 
population. The post-houses, post-mansions, and 

* Procopius, in the Arcana, accuses Justinian of neglecting the public 
aqueducts, but we have no data for ascertaining the precise changes he 
effected in the water police and administration. The names of the modern 
officers charged with the distribution of the water of the Oephissus for irriga- 
tion, and of the water of the ancient subterraneous aqueduct which supplies 
Athens, and which supplied it before the days of Pericles, are vortex** 
and »!(• x(«r»{ 

f De Bdlo Goth. i. 

t Dig. xliii. 10. 3. The Greek title, « De Via Publica," &c. is very 

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every means of transport, were maintained in good 
order, but they had long been rendered the means 
of oppressing the people ; and though laws had often 
been passed to prevent the provincials from suffering 
from the exactions of imperial officers when travel- 
ling, the extent of the abuses was beginning to ruin 
the establishment.* Still the Roman empire, to the 
latest period of its existence, paid considerable 
attention to the police of the public roads, and was 
long indebted to this care for the preservation of 
its military superiority over its enemies, and that 
of its lucrative commerce* 

The activity of the government in clearing the 
country of robbers and banditti, and the singular 
severity of the laws on this subject, shew that the 
danger of a diminution of the imperial revenues was 
capable of inspiring the Roman government with 
energy and vigour, f The ports were carefully 
cleaned, and their entry indicated by lighthouses, as 
in earlier times ; J and, in short, only that portion of 
ancient civilization, which was too expensive for the 
diminished resources of the age, had fallen into 
neglect. Utility and convenience were universally 
sought, both in private and public life ; but solidity, 
taste, and the durability which aspires at immor- 
tality, were no longer regarded as objects of attain- 
able ambition. The basilica, or the monastery, 
constructed by breaking to pieces the solid blocks 
of a neglected city wall, and cemented together by 

* Cod. Tkeod. viii. tit 5. " De Cursu Publico." 

f Cod. Just. i. 55. 6. "De Defensoribus Civitatum." C. J. 10. 75. 
« De Irenarchis." C. J. ix. 47. 18. " De Pcenis." 

X Plin. H. N. xxxv. 12. shews, that the provincial towns of Ostia and 
Ravenna had borrowed this Greek invention. 


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lime burnt from the marble of a desecrated temple, 
or heathen tomb, was intended to contain a certain 
number of persons; and the cost of the building, 
and its temporary sufficiency for the required pur- 
pose, were just as much the general object of the 
architect's attention, in the time of Justinian, as in 
our own. 

The worst feature of Justinian's administration 
was its venality. This vice, it is true, generally 
prevails in an administration uninfluenced by public 
opinion, and based on an organized bureaucracy, 
whenever the corps of administrators becomes too 
numerous for the moral character of the individuals, 
to be under the control of their superiors; for 
usage secures to them a permanent official position. 
Whether the supreme political power, therefore, be 
constituted as a despotic monarchy, or a democratic 
republic, history shews that the same causes have 
more than once produced this effect. Justinian, 
however, countenanced the venality of his subordi- 
nates, by an open sale of offices; and the violent 
complaints of Procopius are confirmed by the legis- 
lative measures of the emperor.* When shame 
prevented the emperor himself from selling an 
official appointment, he did not blush to order the 
payment of a stated sum to be made to the Empress 
Theodora.f This conduct opened a door to every 
abuse on the part of the imperial ministers and 
provincial governors, and contributed, in no small 
degree, to the misfortunes of Justin the Second, and 

• Procopius, Are. Cod. Just. i. 27. 1.2. "De Officio Preefecti 
Pnetorio Africte." Nov. 8. Nov. 24. 
t Nov. 30. c. 6. pp. s. 1. 

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the diminution of the influence of the Roman 
administration in the distant provinces, and tended 
to neutralize the benefits which Justinian had con- 
ferred on the empire, by his legislative compilations. 

One of the strongest proofs of the declining 
condition of the Greek nation, is to be found in the 
care with which every misfortune of this period is 
recorded in history. It is only when little hope is 
felt of repairing the ravages of disease, fire, and 
earthquakes, that these evils are regarded as affecting 
the prosperity of a nation. In an improving state 
of society, great as their ravages may prove, they 
are only personal misfortunes ; the void which they 
create in the population is quickly replaced, and the 
property which they may destroy rises from its ruins, 
with an increase of beauty. But when it happens that 
a pestilence leaves a country depopulated for many 
generations, and that conflagrations and earthquakes 
ruin cities, which are never again reconstructed of 
their former size — these evils are apt to be mistaken 
by the people as the primary cause of the national 
decline, and acquire an undue historical impor- 
tance in the popular mind. The age of Justinian 
was remarkable for a terrible pestilence which 
ravaged every province of the empire in succession, 
for many famines which swept away no inconsider- 
able portion of the population, and for earthquakes 
which laid waste no small number of the most 
flourishing and populous cities of the empire. 

Greece had suffered very little from hostile 
attacks after the departure of Alaric ; for the 
piratical incursions of Genseric were neither very 
extensive nor very successful ; and after the time 

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of these barbarians, the ravages of earthquakes 
begin to figure in history, as an important cause of 
the impoverished and declining condition of the 
country.* The Huns, it is true, extended their 
plundering expeditions, in the year 540, as far as the 
Isthmus of Corinth, but they do not appear to have 
succeeded in capturing a single town of any note.f 
The fleet of Totila plundered Corcyra, and the coast 
of Epirus, from Nicopolis up to Dodona ; but these 
misfortunes were temporary and partial, and could 
have caused no irreparable loss, either of life or 
property, in a prosperous community. The fact 
appears to be, that Greece was in a declining con- 
dition ; but that the means of subsistence were 
abundant, and the population had but an incorrect 
and vague conception of the means by which the 
government was consuming their substance, and 
reducing them to a state of barbarism. In this 
state of things, several earthquakes, of singular 
violence, and attended by unusual phenomena, made 
a deep impression on men's minds. Corinth, which 
was still a populous city, Patras, Naupactus, Chae- 
ronea, and Coronea, were all laid in ruins. An 
immense assembly of Greeks was collected at the 
time to celebrate a public festival ; the whole popu- 
lation was swallowed up in the midst of their 
ceremonies. The waters of the Maliac Gulf retired 
suddenly, and left the shores of Thermopylae dry; 
but the sea, suddenly returning with violence, 

• The word Greece represents the provinces of Achaea, Thessaly, 
Southern or New Epirus, and the islands of the Archipelago, in the official 
division of the empire. 

+ Procof. Pert. ii. 4. 

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swept up the valley of the Sperchius, and carried 
away the inhabitants of the land. In an age of 
ignorance and superstition, when the prospects of 
mankind were despondent, these awful occurrences 
could not fail to produce an alarming effect on 
men's minds, and were not unnaturally regarded 
as a supernatural confirmation of the despair 
which led many to imagine that the ruin of our 
globe was approaching, while some conceived, with 
Procopius, that Justinian was the demon destined 
to complete the catastrophe of the human race. 

The condition of the Greek population in Achaea, 
seems to have been as little understood by the 
courtiers of Justinian as by ourselves. The splendid 
appearance which the ancient monuments, shining 
in the clear sky with the freshness of recent con- 
structions, gave to the Greek cities, induced the 
Constantinopolitans, and other strangers who visited 
the country, to suppose that the aspect of elegance, 
and delicacy of finish, every where apparent, were the 
result of constant municipal expenditure. As the 
buildings of Constantine and Theodosius in the 
capital, were probably begrimed with dust and 
smoke, it was hardly natural to conceive that those 
of Pericles and Epaminondas could retain a perpetual 
youth. The celebrity of the city of Athens, the 
privileges which it still enjoyed, the society by which 
it was frequented, as an agreeable residence, as a 
school for study, or as a place of retirement for the 
wealthy literary men of the age, gave the people of 
the capital a far too exalted idea of the well-being 
of Greece. The cotemporaries of Justinian judged 
the Greeks of their age, by placing them in too 

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close a relation with the inhabitants of the free 
states of antiquity ; we, on the contrary, are too apt 
to confound them with the rude inhabitants of the 
Morea, who recovered their land from the Sclavonian 
invaders. Had Procopius rightly estimated the 
condition of the rural population, and reflected on 
the extreme difficulty which the agriculturist always 
encounters in quitting his present, and repairing to a 
distant occupation, with the impossibility of finding 
money in a country where there are no purchasers, he 
would not have signalized the penurious disposition 
of the Greeks as their national characteristic* It 
is, however, evident, that the Greeks of the capital, 
and of the Roman administration, were now influ- 
enced by a very different spirit from that of the 
inhabitants of the true Hellenic lands; and this 
separation of feeling became more and more 
conspicuous as the empire declined in power. The 
central administration soon ceased to pay any 
particular attention to the poor and insignificant 
province of Achsea, which was sure to furnish its 
tribute, as it hated the Romans less than it feared 
the barbarians. From henceforward, therefore, the 
inhabitants of Hellas become almost lost to the 
historians of the empire; and the motley and 
expatriated population of Constantinople and the 
Asiatic colonies, are represented to the literary 
world, as forming the real body of the Greek nation 
— an error which has concealed the history of a 
nation from our study, and replaced it by the annals 
of a court, the records of a government, and a 
class of society. 

* De jEdificiU, iv. 11. ratvrn ti ri» <rfju*£«\»y'ia.- 

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The attention of Justinian's immediate prede- 
cessors had been devoted to improving the internal 
condition of the empire, and their measures had 
been attended with some success. As the Greeks 
formed the most important portion of the population, 
they had participated, in the greatest degree, in this 
improvement. They were on the eve of securing 
a national preponderance in the Roman state, when 
Justinian forced them back into their former 
secondary condition, by directing his own attention, 
and the influence of the public administration, to 
arms and law, the two departments of the Roman 
government, from which the Greeks, as a nation, 
were in a great measure excluded. The conquests 
of Justinian, however, tended to improve the con- 
dition of the mercantile and manufacturing portion 
of the Greek population, by extending its direct 
relations with the West ; and the trading population 
of Greece began to acquire a considerable influence 
in public affairs — an influence which tended to 
support the existence of the Constantinopolitan 
government, when the frame-work of the Roman 
imperial administration began to give way in the 
provinces. But, with the exception of Sicily, and 
the southern portion of Italy, the whole of 
Justinian's conquests in the West were peopled by 
the Latin race ; and the inhabitants, though 

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attached to the imperial government of Constan- 
tinople, as the political head of the orthodox church, 
were already opposed to the Greek nation, as 
belonging to the Latin, and not to the Greek party, 
in this orthodox church. 

When the Goths, Sueves, and Vandals had 
completed their establishments in Spain, Africa, and 
Italy, and their armies were spread over these 
countries in the shape of land proprietors and rulers, 
the smallness of their number became apparent to 
the mass of the population of the conquered ; and 
the barbarians soon lost in individual intercourse as 
citizens, the superiority which they had enjoyed while 
united in armed bands. The Romans, in spite of the 
confiscation of a portion of their estates to enrich 
their conquerors, and in spite of the oppression with 
which they had often been treated, still formed the 
majority of the middling classes ; the administration 
of the greater part of the landed property, the 
commerce of the country, the municipal and judicial 
organization, all centred in the hands of the Roman 
population. In addition to this political existence, 
they were separated from their conquerors by 
religion. The northern invaders of the western 
empire were Arians, the Roman population was 
orthodox. This religious feeling was so strong, that 
the catholic king of the Franks, Clovis, was often 
able to avail himself of the assistance of the 
orthodox subjects of the Arian Goths, in his wars 
with the Gothic kings* As soon, however, as 
Justinian had displayed that the eastern empire had 
recovered some portion of the ancient Roman 

* Gregory of Tour$, 1. ii. c. 37. 

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vigour, the eyes of all the Roman population of the 
West, in Spain, Gaul, Africa, and Italy, were directed 
to the imperial court ; and there can be no doubt, 
that the government of Justinian maintained 
extensive relations with the Roman population and 
the orthodox clergy over all Europe. 

Justinian had succeeded to the empire while it 
was embroiled in war with Persia, but he was 
fortunate enough to conclude a peace with Chosroes 
the Great, who ascended the Persian throne in the 
fourth year of his reign. In the East, he could 
never expect to make any permanent conquests ; 
while in the West, a large portion of the population 
of the countries which he proposed attacking, was 
ready to receive his troops with open arms, to assist 
them in the contest ; and in case of success, they 
were sure to form submissive, and probably attached 
subjects. Both policy and religion induced Justinian 
to commence his attacks on the invaders of the 
Roman empire in Africa. The Vandals were 
bigoted Arians, their government had been 
peculiarly tyrannical, they had always treated the 
Roman inhabitants of Africa as political enemies, 
and persecuted them as religious opponents. The 
Visigoths in Spain had occupied two-thirds of the 
subjugated lands, the Ostrogoths in Italy had been 
satisfied with one-third ; and both these peoples had 
acknowledged the civil rights of the Romans as 
citizens and Christians. The Vandals had adopted 
a different policy. They seized all the richest lands, 
and the most valuable estates, and exterminated the 
higher class of the Romans, while they only 
permitted the poorer proprietors to preserve the 

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arid and distant parts of the country. Still, the 
number of Romans excited the fears of the Vandals, 
who destroyed the walls of the provincial towns, in 
order to prevent the people from receiving succours 
from the eastern empire, which might have sup- 
ported a rebellion. The Roman population was 
enfeebled by the measures which the Vandals 
adopted, but its hatred to their government was 
increased ; and when Gelimer's assumption of the 
royal authority seemed likely to create a civil 
war, the people of Tripolis rebelled, and solicited 
assistance from Justinian, even before the arrival of 
the army of Belisarius. 

Justinian, in attempting the reconquest of Africa, 
could not have overlooked the great wealth of the 
province at the time of its conquest by Genseric, 
the distributions of grain which it had furnished for 
Rome, and the immense tribute which it had once 
paid. Only a century had elapsed, and Justinian 
could not have supposed that the wealth and popula- 
tion of the country had suffered, to the extent of 
their actual diminution, from the oppressive govern- 
ment of the Vandal kings. The conquest of a 
civilized population by rude warriors, must always be 
attended by the ruin, and often by the extermination, 
of the numerous classes which are supported by the 
profits of those manufactures which are destined for 
the consumption of the refined. The conquerors 
despise the appearance of the conquered, and never 
adopt immediately the costly dresses w r hich they have 
worn, nor do they adorn their dwellings with the 
same taste and refinement ; while the vanquished are 
deprived of the wealth necessary to procure these 

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luxuries. The ruin of a numerous class of manufac- 
turers, with the emigration of a great portion of the 
industrious population, is an inevitable consequence 
of this cessation of demand ; and a great loss, or 
rather the instant annihilation, of a large commercial 
department must take place. Yet the conquerors 
will long live in wealth and luxury; the accumu- 
lated riches of the country will for many years be 
found amply sufficient to gratify all the desires 
of the victors, and the whole of its wealth will 
generally be consumed, and even the power of 
reproducing it be greatly diminished, ere any signs 
of poverty are perceived by the conquerors. These 
facts are illustrated in the clearest manner, by the 
history of the Vandal domination in Africa. 
Genseric entered the province, accompanied by 
eighty thousand souls, of whom fifty thousand only 
were capable of bearing arms ; yet this small horde 
devoured all the wealth of Africa in the course of a 
single century, and from an army of warriors, they 
were converted into a caste of luxurious nobles, 
living in the splendid villas with which the country 
round Carthage had been covered, during the 
peaceful ages which had elapsed since Caesar had 
rebuilt the ancient rival of Rome. In order fully to 
understand the influence of the Vandals on the 
state of the country which they occupied, it must be 
observed, that their oppressive government tended 
so far to lower the condition, and reduce the num- 
bers of the Roman provincials, that the native 
Moors began to reoccupy the country, from which 
Roman industry and Roman capital had excluded 
them. The Moorish population being in a lower 

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state of civilization than the lowest grade of the 
Romans, could exist in districts which these had 
abandoned as uninhabitable, after the destruction 
of the buildings and plantations, which the existing 
generation had no means of replacing ; and thus, from 
the time of the Vandal invasion, and more especially 
after the civil w T ars w r hich followed Justinian's con- 
quest of Africa, we find the Moors covering an 
increased extent of country, and augmenting in 
numbers and power, as the property of the province 
was destroyed, and its inhabitants ruined. 

When Justinian resolved to attack the Vandals, 
they were reported to have become one of the most 
luxurious nations in the world ; and as they con- 
tinued to affect the character of soldiers, they were 
admirably armed, and ready to take the field with 
their whole male population. But they had 
neglected military discipline and science, and their 
armies were far more splendid than efficient. 
Hilderic, the fifth monarch of the Vandal kingdom, 
the grandson of Genseric, and son of Eudocia, the 
daughter of the Emperor Valentinian the Third, 
shewed himself inclined to protect the orthodox and 
Roman portion of his subjects.* This disposition, 
and his Roman descent, excited the suspicion of 
his Vandal and Arian countrymen, without attach- 
ing the orthodox provincials to his hated race. 

* The succession of the Vandal monarchs was as follows : — 

Genseric invaded Africa, 

A. D. 428 

Hanneric ascended the throne, 

. 477 

Gundamund, . . . 



. 496 



Gelimer seized the crown, 

. 530 

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Gelimer, the great-grandson of Genseric, availed 
himself of the general discontent to dethrone 
Hilderic, but the revolution was not effected 
without many manifestations of dissatisfaction on 
the part of some of the Vandals ; and the Roman 
inhabitants of the province of Tripolis, and the 
Gothic officer who commanded in Sardinia, availed 
themselves of the opportunity to throw off the 
yoke of the Vandals, and solicit assistance from 

The treason of Gelimer afforded Justinian an 
excellent pretext for intermeddling with the affairs 
of Africa, and for invading the Vandal kingdom. 
Belisarius, a general already distinguished by his 
conduct in the Persian war, was selected to command 
an expedition of considerable magnitude. Ten 
thousand infantry, and five thousand cavalry, were 
embarked in a fleet of five hundred transports, which 
was protected and escorted by ninety-two light 
galleys of war. The troops were all veterans, 
inured to discipline, and the cavalry was composed 
of the choicest soldiers in the imperial service. 
After a long navigation, and some delay at Methone, 
and in Sicily, they reached Africa. The Vandals, 
who, in the time of Genseric had been redoubted 
pirates, and, as such, were national enemies of the 
commercial Greeks, were now too wealthy to court 
danger, and were ignorant of the approach of 
the Roman armament, until they received the news 
that Belisarius was marching towards Carthage. 
The Vandals were numerous, and doubtless brave, 
but they were no longer trained to war, or accus- 
tomed to regular discipline, and their behaviour in 

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the field of battle was contemptible. Two engage- 
ments of cavalry, in the bloodiest of which the 
Vandals lost only eight hundred men, decided the 
fate of Africa, and enabled Belisarius to subjugate 
the Vandal kingdom. The brothers of Gelimer fell 
gallantly in the field. His own behaviour renders even 
his personal courage, — he fled to the Moors 
of the mountainous districts, but the misery of 
barbarous warfare, and the privations of a besieged 
camp, soon extinguished his feelings of pride, and 
his love of independence. Belisarius led him 
prisoner to Constantinople, where he appeared in 
the pageantry of a triumphal procession. A 
conquering general, a captive monarch, and a 
Roman triumph, offered strong temptations to 
romantic fancies ; but as the age indulged only in 
gross fables, miracles, or rhetorical exaggerations, we 
are informed, that Gelimer received from Justinian 
large estates in Galatia, to which he retired with 
his relations. Justinian offered him the rank of 
patrician, and a seat in the senate ; but he was more 
attached to his Arian principles, than to his personal 
dignity, and refused to join the orthodox church. 

The great body of the Vandals displayed as little 
patriotism and fortitude as their king. Some were 
slain in the war, the rest were incorporated in the 
Roman armies, or escaped to the Moors. The 
provincials were allowed to reclaim the lands that 
had been occupied by the Vandals; the Arian 
heresy was proscribed, and the very race of these 
remarkable conquerors was in a short time extermi- 
nated, as a single generation sufficed so to confound 
their women and children in the mass of the 

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Roman inhabitants of the province, that their 
very name was totally forgotten. There are few 
instances in history of a nation disappearing so 
rapidly, and so completely, as the Vandals of Africa. 
Their first monarch, Genseric, had been powerful 
enough to plunder both Rome and Greece, yet his 
army hardly exceeded fifty thousand men, and his 
followers, who held the absolute sovereignty of 
Africa for one hundred and seven years, do not 
appear to have increased very greatly in number, 
from the position in which their sudden acquisition 
of immense wealth had placed them.* 

Belisarius soon found the Roman authority so 
firmly established round Carthage, that he was able 
to despatch troops in every direction, in order 
to secure and extend the new conquest. The 
western coast was subjected as far as the Straits 
of Hercules ; a garrison was placed in Septum, 
and a body of troops stationed in Tripolis, to 
secure the eastern part of this extensive province 
from the incursions of the Moors. Sardinia, 
Corsica, Majorca, Minorca, and Ivica, were added 
to the empire, merely . by sending officers to take 
the command of these islands, and troops to form 
the garrisons. This fact shews, that the commercial 
relations of the Greeks, and the civil institutions of 
the Romans, still exercised a very powerful influence 
over the population of these islands. 

Justinian determined to re-establish the Roman 
government on precisely the same basis as before 
the Vandal invasion; but, as the registers of the 

* The Vandal domination in Spain has left a permanent memorial in the 
name of Andalusia, from Vandalusia. 

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land-tax and capitation, and the official admeasure- 
ment of the estates, no longer existed, officers were 
sent from Constantinople for the assessment of the 
taxes ; and the old principle of extorting as much of 
the surplus produce of the land as possible, was 
adopted as the rule for apportioning the tribute. 
Yet, in the opinion of the provincials, the financial 
rapacity of the imperial government was a more 
tolerable evil than the tyranny of the Vandals, and 
they remained long sincerely attached to the Roman 
power. Unfortunately, the rebellion of the bar- 
barian mercenaries, who formed the flower of 
Justinian's army in Africa, the despair of the per- 
secuted Arians> the seductions of the Vandal 
women, and the hostile incursions of the Moorish 
tribes, aided the severity of the taxes, in desolating 
this flourishing province. The impossibility of 
Roman subjects' acquiring the possession of arms, 
and forming themselves into a local militia, even 
for the protection of their property against the 
plundering expeditions of the neighbouring bar- 
barians, prevented the African provincials from 
aspiring after independence, and forced on them the 
conviction, that they were incapable of defending 
themselves, without the aid of the experienced 
though disorderly soldiery of the imperial armies. 
Religious persecution, financial oppression, the sedi- 
tions of unpaid troops, and the incursions of bar- 
barous tribes, though they failed to cause a general 
insurrection of the inhabitants, ruined their wealth, 
and lessened their numbers. Procopius records the 
commencement of the desolation of Africa in his 
time ; and subsequently, as the imperial government 

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grew weaker, more negligent, and more corrupt, it 
pressed more heavily on the industry and well-being 
of the provincials, and enabled the barbarous Moors 
to extend their encroachments on Roman civiliza- 

The glory which Belisarius has gained in history, 
deserves to be contrasted with the oblivion which 
has covered the exploits of John the Patrician, one 
of the ablest generals of Justinian. This expe- 
rienced general assumed the command in Africa 
when the province had fallen into a state of great 
disorder; the inhabitants were exposed to a dange- 
rous coalition of the Moors, and the Roman army 
was in such a state of destitution, that their leader 
was compelled to import the necessary provisions 
for his troops.f Though John defeated the Moors, 
and restored prosperity to the province, his name is 
almost forgotten. His actions and talents only 
affected the interests of the Byzantine empire, and 
prolonged the existence of the Roman province of 
Africa; they exerted no influence on the fate of 
any of the European nations, whose history has 
been the object of study in modern times, so that 
they were utterly forgotten, when the recently 
discovered poetry of Corippus, one of the last and 
worst of the Roman poets, has rescued them from 
complete oblivion. 

• Procopius, De Bello Vand. ii. 14 — 28. Arcana, 18. Corippus, 

t Corippus, Johannide$, v. 384. 

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The empire of the Ostrogoths, though established 
on principles of a just administration by the wisdom 
of the great Theodorie, soon began to suffer as 
complete a national demoralization as that of the 
Vandals, though the Goths themselves, from being 
more civilized, and living more directly under the 
restraint of laws which protected the property of 
their Roman subjects, had not become individually 
so enfeebled by the possession of wealth.* The con- 
quest of Italy had not produced any very great 
revolution in the state of the country. The Romans 
had long been accustomed to be defended in name, 
but, in fact, to be ruled, by the commanders of the 
mercenary troops in the emperor's service. The 
Goths, even after the conquest, allowed them to 
retain two-thirds of their landed estates, with all 
their moveable property; and as they had really 
been as completely excluded from military service 
under their own emperors, as under Theodorie, f 
their social condition underwent but little change. 

* Odoaoer and Theodorie, divided amongst their Gothic followers one- 
third of the Roman estates in Italy ; and, probably, the discipline enforced 
by Theodorie, and the justice of his administration, rendered this cession of 
a portion of their property a cheap purchase of freedom from the disorders 
of the mercenary troops, in the last days of the western empire. — Procopius, 
De BeUc Goth. i. 1. For an excellent account of the Ostrogothic govern- 
ment of Italy, see Estai $nr V Hat, civil at politique, des peuplet d' Italic 
tout le gouvemement des Goths, par Sartorius, professor at Gottingen. 
Paris, 1811 ; and also, GeschickU des Ost — Goihischen Rtichs in ItcUitn. 
Von Manso. Breslau, 1824. 

t That Romans served in the Gothic armies, though the case must have 
been rare, appears from the passages pointed out by Sartorius. P. 248. 

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Theodoric had been induced to treat the inhabitants 
of Italy with mildness, by reasons of policy ; the 
permanent maintenance of his conquests required a 
fixed revenue, and that revenue could only be sup- 
plied by the industry and civilization of his Italian 
subjects. His sagacity soon told him, that it was 
wiser to tax the Romans than to plunder them, and 
that it was also necessary, in order to secure the 
fruits of a regular system of taxation, to leave them 
in the possession of those laws and privileges which 
enabled them to defend their civilization. It is 
singular, that the empire of Theodoric, the most 
extensive and most celebrated of those which were 
formed by the conquerors of the Roman provinces, 
should have proved the least durable. The justice 
of Theodoric, and the barbarity of Genseric, were 
equally ineffectual in consolidating a permanent 
dominion to their countrymen. The civilization of 
the Romans was more powerful than the mightiest 
of the barbarian monarchs and nations; and until 
that civilization had sunk to the level of their 
conquerors, and enabled the two races to blend 
together, the institutions of the Romans were 
always victorious over the national strength of the 
barbarians. Under Theodoric, Italy was still a 
Roman land. The senate of Rome, the municipal 
councils of the other cities, the old courts of law, 
the parties of the circus, the blue and the green 
factions,* all still existed unchanged — the gladiators 
still fought with wild beasts in the Coliseum. The 
orthodox Roman lived under his own law, with his 

* Veneti and Prasini. 

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own clergy, and the Arian Goth only enjoyed equal 
liberty. The powerful and the wealthy, whether 
they were Romans or Goths, were equally sure of 
obtaining justice ; the poor, whether Goths or 
Romans, were in equal danger of being oppressed * 

The kingdom which the great Theodoric left to 
his grandson Athalaric, under the guardianship of 
his daughter Amalasonta, embraced not only Italy, 
Sicily, and a portion of the south of France ; it also 
included Dalmatia, a part of Illyricum, Pannonia, 
Noricum, and Rhsetia. In these extensive dominions, 
the Gothic race formed but a small part of the 
population ; and yet the Goths, from the privileges 
which they enjoyed, were every where regarded with 
jealousy by the bulk of the inhabitants. Dissen- 
sions soon arose in the royal family ; Athalaric died 
young; Amalasonta was murdered by Theodatus, 
his successor; and as she had been in constant 
communication with the court of Constantinople, 
this crime afforded Justinian a decent pretext for 
interfering in the affairs of the Goths. To prepare 
the way for the reconquest of Italy, Belisarius was 
sent to attack Sicily, which he invaded with an army 
of seven thousand five hundred men, in the year 
535, and subjected it without difficulty. During 
the same campaign, Dalmatia was conquered by the 
imperial arms, recovered by the Goths, but again 
reconquered by Justinian's troops. A rebellion of 
the troops in Africa arrested, for a while, the pro- 
gress of Belisarius, and compelled him to visit 

* Theodoric says, in his edict, " Quod si forsitan persona potentior, aut 
ejus procurator, vel vicedominus ipsius, aut certe conductor sou barbari, seu 
Romani, in aliquo geuere causae presentia non permiserint edicta servari," &c. 

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Carthage ; but he returned to Sicily in a short 
time, and crossing over to Rhegium with his army, 
marched directly to Naples. As he proceeded, 
he was every where welcomed by the inhabitants, 
who were then almost universally Greeks ; and even 
the Gothic commander in the south of Italy 
favoured the Roman general.* 

The city of Naples made a vigorous defence ; but, 
after a siege of three weeks, it was taken by intro- 
ducing into the place a body of the troops, concealed 
in the passage of an aqueduct. As the inhabitants 
had shewn some disposition to assist the Gothic 
garrison in defending the city, and as such conduct 
would greatly increase the difficulty of his campaign 
in Italy, Belisarius, in order to intimidate the 
population of the other cities, appears to have 
winked at the pillage of the town, to have tolerated 
the massacre of many of the citizens in the churches, 
where they had sought an asylum, and to have over- 
looked a sedition of the lowest populace, in which 
the leaders of the Gothic party were assassinated. 
From Naples, Belisarius marched forward to Rome. 

Only sixty years had elapsed since Rome had 
been conquered by Odvacer ; and during this 
period, its great population, the ecclesiastical and 
civil authority of its bishop, the highest dignitary iu 

* Evermor, or Eurimond, (for Jornandes gives him one name iu his his- 
tory of the Goths, and another, in his Chronicle,) was the son-in-law of the 
King Theodotus, yet he joined Belisarius. The Romans seem to have bad 
a party among the Goths ; and, after the conquest, many Goths were con- 
verted from Arians to Catholics. Jornandes speaks of himself, " Ego item, 
quamvis agrammatus, Jornandes, ante conversiouem meani notarius fui." 
This, however, implies, perhaps, that he had embraced the clerical life. His 
Roman attachments arc strongly shewn in his works. De rebut Gelk\* } 
p. 382. 

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the Christian world, and the influence of its senate, 
which still continued to be in the eyes of mankind 
the most honourable political body in existence, 
enabled it to preserve a species of independent civic 
constitution. Theodoric had availed himself of this 
municipal government, to smooth away many of 
the difficulties, which presented themselves in the 
administration of Italy. The Goths, however, in 
leaving the Romans in possession of their own civil 
laws and institutions, had only increased their aver- 
sion to a foreign yoke ; and yet, as they possessed 
no distinct feelings of nationality, apart from their 
connection with the imperial domination, and their 
religious orthodoxy, they never aspired to indepen- 
dence, and were content to turn their eyes towards 
the emperor of the East as their legitimate sove- 
reign. Belisarius, therefore, entered the " eternal 
city," rather as a friend and ally, than as a con- 
queror ; but he had hardly entered it before he 
perceived, that it would be necessary to take every 
precaution to defend his conquest against the new 
Gothic King Witiges. Belisarius repaired the 
walls of Rome, strengthened them with a breast- 
work, collected large stores of provisions, and pre- 
pared to sustain a long siege. 

The Gothic war forms an important epoch in the 
history of the city of Rome ; for within the space of 
sixteen years, it changed masters five times, and 
suffered three severe sieges. Its population was 
almost destroyed ; its exterior appearance, its public 
buildings, and its walls, must have undergone many 
changes, according to the exigencies of the various 
measures required for its defence. It has, con- 

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sequently, been too generally assumed, that the 
existing walls indicate the position of those which 
Belisarius found, when he entered the city. It 
ought, however, to be observed, that every repara- 
tion and renewal must have diminished their 
extent, and cut off some obtruding angle, in order 
to enable the materials of the ruined wall, even 
with the aid of the surrounding buildings, to suffice 
for the reconstruction of the new defences. The 
whole walls of Aurelian, if we suppose them to have 
been destroyed, would only have sufficed to con- 
struct one of two-thirds of their extent, so great 
is the deterioration of the materials used in such 
buildings. With the conquest of Rome by Beli- 
sarius, the history of the ancient city may be con- 
sidered as terminating ; and with his defence against 
Witiges, commences the history of the middle ages, 
of the times of destruction and of change.* 

Witiges laid siege to Rome, with an army said by 

* It is impossible to enter on all the grounds of my opinion, that the pre- 
sent walls of Rome have nothing almost in common with those of Aurelian ; 
but some authority must be cited to indicate the numerous changes made in 
their construction, consequently, in their extent. Honorius made changes and 
repairs. Theodoric repaired them. Cassiodorus Var. 1. cp. 25. 11. ep. 34. 
Belisarius found them in a ruinous state, the ditch filled up in some places. 
In general, the sieges during the Gothic war required the reduction of the 
size of the place, where this was practicable. The words of Procopius indi- 
cate that the Flaminian gate of his day did not correspond to the modern 
Porta del popolo. Goth, i. 23. The feebleness of the outer wall of the Viva- 
rium, indicates that this was not the original external wall. Totila destroyed 
about one-third of the wall of Rome. Procop. Goth. iii. 22. Marcrll. 
Chron. ap. Serinond. ii. 385. Belisarius must have made changes in repair- 
ing this destruction, and Diogenes, who defended Rome against Totila in 548, 
could hardly fail to do so. Totila added to the walls near the Mole of Adrian. 
Procop. Goth. iii. 36; iv. 33. The whole defences must have been remodelled 
by Narses, as they must have been temporary repairs in many parts. An 
excellent little work has just been published on this subject, — De Roma retcrit 
muris atque portit scrip$it f G. A. Becker, Prof. Lips., Lcipsic, 1842. 

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Procopius to have amounted to 150,000 men, yet 
this army was insufficient to invest the whole 
circuit of the city * The Gothic king distributed 
his troops in seven fortified camps ; six were 
formed to surround the city, and the seventh was 
placed to protect the Milvian bridge over the Tiber. 
Five camps covered the space from the Prenestine 
to the Flaminian gates, and the remaining camp 
was formed beyond the Tiber, in the plain below 
the Vatican. By these arrangements, the Goths 
only commanded about half the circuit of Rome, 
and the roads to Naples and to the mouth of the 
Tiber remained open. This siege of Rome is a 
memorable event in the history of Europe, as 
marking the period, when the generals and viceroys 
of the Roman emperors commenced the destruction 
of the monuments of ancient art, with the same 
indifference as they would have destroyed any other 
wall ; and as illustrating the singular change which 
had already occurred in the military art, and in the 
composition of the Roman armies. It is strange to 
find the tactics of the middle ages described in the 
Greek of Procopius. The Goths displayed an utter 
ignorance of the art of war ; they had no skill in the 
use of military engines, and they could not even 
render their numerical superiority available in 
assaults. The leading operations of the attack and 
defence of Rome consisted in a series of cavalry 
engagements fought under its walls ; and in these, 
the superior discipline and skill of the mercenaries 
of Belisarius generally secured them the victory. 

• De Bcllo Goth. i. 14. 

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The Roman cavalry, — for so the mixture of Huns, 
Heruls, and Armenians, which formed the elite of 
the army, must be termed, — trusted chiefly to the 
bow ; while the Goths placed their reliance on the 
lance and sword, which the able manoeuvres of their 
enemies seldom allowed them to use with effect. The 
infantry of both armies usually remained idle 
spectators of the combat. Belisarius himself con- 
sidered it of little use in a field of battle, and when 
he once reluctantly admitted it, at the pressing 
solicitation of its commanders, to share in one of 
his engagements, its defeat, after the exhibition 
of great bravery on the part both of the officers 
and men, confirmed him in his preference of the 

In spite of the prudent arrangements adopted by 
Belisarius to ensure supplies of provisions, Rome 
suffered very severely from famine during the siege ; 
but the Gothic army was compelled to undergo 
equal hardships, and suffered far greater losses from 
disease. The communications of the garrison with 
the coast, were for a time interrupted, but, at last, a 
body of five thousand fresh troops, and abundant 
supply of provisions, despatched by Justinian to the 
assistance of Belisarius, entered Rome. Shortly 
after the arrival of this reinforcement, the Goths 
found themselves constrained to abandon the siege, 
in which they had persevered for a year. Justinian 
again augmented his army in Italy, by sending over 
seven thousand troops under the command of the 
eunuch Narses, a man whose talents were in no way 
inferior to those of Belisarius, and whose name 
occupies an equally important place in the history 

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of Italy. The emperor had conferred on Narses an 
independent authority over his own division, guided 
by the prudent jealousy which dictated the strictest 
control over all the powerful generals of the empire, 
who, in daring to rebel, might perhaps have 
assumed the purple with some hope of success. 
Narses, perhaps, presuming too far on his knowledge 
of Justinian's feelings, ventured to throw serious 
obstacles in the way of Belisarius ; and the dissen- 
sions of the two generals delayed the progress of 
the Roman arms. The Goths availed themselves of 
the opportunity to continue the war with vigour; 
they succeeded in reconquering Milan, which had 
admitted a Roman garrison, and sacked the city, 
which was second only to Rome, in wealth and 
population. They massacred the whole male popu- 
lation, and behaved with such cruelty, that three 
hundred thousand were said to have perished — a 
number which probably only indicates the whole 
population of Milan, at this period.* 

A state of warfare soon disorganized the ill- 
cemented government of the Gothic kingdom ; and 
the ravages caused by the wide extended military 
operations of the armies, which degenerated into a 
succession of sieges and skirmishes, created a 
dreadful famine in the north of Italy. Society 
made a step towards barbarism ; great numbers of 
the industrious natives perished by actual starvation, 
and the ranks of the Goths were thinned by misery 
and disease. Procopius, w r ho was himself in Italy 
at the time, records a horrible story of two women 

• ProcopIus, De Bcllo Goth. ii. 21. A. D. 539. 

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who lived on human flesh, and were discovered 
to have murdered seventeen persons, in order 
to devour their bodies.* This famine assisted 
the progress of the Roman arms, as the imperial 
troops drew their supplies of provisions from the 
East, while the measures of their enemies were 
paralyzed by the general want. 

Witiges, finding his resources inadequate to 
check the conquests of Belisarius, solicited the aid 
of the Franks, and despatched an embassy to 
Chosroes, to excite the jealousy of the Persian 
monarch. The Franks, under Theodebert, entered 
Italy, but they were soon compelled to retire ; and 
Belisarius, being placed at the head of the whole 
army by the recall of Narses, soon terminated the 
war. Ravenna, the Gothic capital, was invested; 
but the siege was more remarkable for the nego- 
tiations which were carried on during its progress, 
than for the military operations. The Goths, with 
the consent of Witiges, made Belisarius the singular 
offer of acknowledging him as the Emperor of the 
West, on condition of his joining his forces to 
theirs, permitting them to retain their position and 
property in Italy, and thus ensuring them the pos- 
session of their nationality, and their peculiar laws. 
Perhaps, neither the state of the mercenary army 
which he commanded, nor the condition of the 
Gothic nation, rendered the project very feasible. It 
is certain, that Belisarius only listened to it, in order 
to hasten the surrender of Ravenna, and secure the 
person of Witiges, without farther bloodshed. Italy 

* Dc Bello Goth. ii. 30. 

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submitted to Justinian, and the few Goths who still 
maintained their independence beyond the Po, 
pressed Belisarius in vain to declare himself 
emperor. But even without these solicitations, his 
power had awakened the fears of his sovereign, and 
he was recalled, though with honour, from his 
command in Italy. He returned to Constantinople 
leading Witiges captive, as he had formerly 
appeared conducting Gelimer. 

Great as the talents of Belisarius really were, and 
sound as his judgment appears to have been, still it 
must be confessed, his name occupies a more pro- 
minent place in history, than his merits are entitled 
to claim. The accidents of the conquests which he 
achieved, by having put an end to two powerful mon- 
archies, of his having led captive to Constantinople 
the representatives of the dreaded Genseric and the 
great Theodoric,and of his having enjoyed the singular 
good fortune, of having his exploits recorded in the 
classic language of Procopius, the last historian of 
the Greeks, — all these circumstances, added to the 
celebrity which the improbable tale of his mendicity 
has acquired in modern times, have made the very 
name of Belisarius an expression of heroic greatness, 
reduced to abject misery by royal ingratitude. 
Belisarius did not despise nor neglect wealth : he 
accumulated a degree of riches which could not 
have been acquired by any commander-in-chief, 
amidst the wars and famines of the period, without 
rendering the military and civil administration sub- 
servient to his pecuniary profit. On his return from 
Italy, he lived at Constantinople, in a degree of 
almost regal splendour, and maintained a body of 

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seven thousand cavalry attached to his household.* 
In an empire, where confiscation was an ordinary 
financial resource, and under a sovereign, whose 
situation rendered jealousy only common prudence, 
it is not surprising that the wealth of Belisarius 
excited the imperial cupidity, and induced Justinian 
to seize great part of it. The behaviour of the 
general under his misfortunes, and the lamentable 
picture of his depression which Procopius has drawn, 
may, perhaps, have served as the foundation for the 
report of his having been condemned to lose his 
sight. At a later period, his wealth was again con- 
fiscated on an accusation of treason, though the best 
authorities which we possess, assert that he was 
reinstated in some part of his fortune, and died in 
possession of his property .f 

* Procopius, De Bell. Goth. iii. 1. 

+ Lord Mahon's excellent Life of Belisarius, London, 1829, 8vo. has 
again opened the question concerning the blindness of Belisarius, and the 
veracity of the tale of his standing to solicit the charity of the passer-by with 
a wooden bowl. After all, I am inclined to think, that merely on the 
grounds stated by Lord Mahon, the weight of evidence is against the proba- 
bility of the Romance. The age of Belisarius, Theodoric, and Chosroes, was 
a mythic one for the succeeding people. Belisarius was a Roman general, 
separated by a deep gulf of lost civilization, from all the Greek writers who 
mention his latter days. They are very poor historical authorities, but still 1 
cannot agree with Lord Mahon, in placing Theophanes after John Tzetzes. 
After all, the question is perhaps only one of probability, as the restora- 
tion and the blindness and beggary may have been possible, though I hold 
the latter to be barely a possibility. I am almost inclined to infer," from the 
expression of Tzetzes, that all historical authority was against his tale, and 
that he knew he was recording a popular fable. 

"AXXm $ riit %{atiit£v t fin rv$X*§in**t raurtv 
'E| Ivrir i/**i V ArtfAct lr%*rve yiyri**t 9 
Keu triXtt us Mvetxknffiv Vtfyif l\$i7t <r prints . 

Ch. iii. Hist. 88. v. 346. 

I think also, that the mention of Belisarius, which is made by Justinian in 
an ordinance dated in 565, renders it extremely improbable that he had been 

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Belisarius had hardly quitted Italy when the 
Goths reassembled their forces. They were accus- 
tomed to rule, and nourished in the profession of 
arms. Justinian sent a civilian, Alexander the 
logothet, to govern Italy, hoping that his financial 
arrangements would render the new conquest a 
source of revenue to the imperial treasury. The 
fiscal administration of the new governor soon 
excited great discontent. He diminished the 
number of the Roman troops, and put a stop to 
those profits which a state of war usually affords the 
military ; while, at the same time, he abolished the 
pensions and distributions of grain, which formed no 
inconsiderable portion of the revenue of the higher 
classes in Rome, and which had never been entirely 
suppressed during the Gothic domination. Alex- 
ander may have acted, in some cases, with undue 
severity in enforcing these measures; but it is 
evident, from their nature, that he must have 
received express orders from the emperor to put an 
end, to what the rapacious Justinian considered the 
lavish expenditure of Belisarius. 

Totila had been elected king of the Goths, and 
had he not been opposed to the greatest men whom 
the declining age of the Roman empire produced, 
he would, probably, have succeeded in restoring the 
Gothic monarchy in Italy. His successes endeared 
him to his countrymen, while the justice of his 
administration, contrasted with the rapacity of the 

reduced to abject misery. The phrase " gloriossissimum Belisarium patri- 
ciura contra Gothos in Italiam expedivimus," seems to imply that Belisarius 
had been restored to all his honours. Corpus Juris Civilis. Alios aliquot 
Constitution**, vi. PrivHtgium pro Titionibus ex Cujac. obss, lib. x. cap. 12. 
Tom. 2. 51 Led. st. 4to. 

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imperial officers, at last gained him the respect and 
attachment of the native provincials. He was on 
the point of commencing the siege of Rome, when 
Belisarius, who, after his departure, had served 
against Persia, was sent back to Italy to recover the 
ground already lost. The imperial forces were 
completely destitute of that unity and military 
organization, which constitute a number of different 
corps into one army. The various bodies of troops 
were commanded by officers completely independent 
of one another, and obedient only to Belisarius as 
commander-in-chief. Justinian, acting on his usual 
maxims of jealousy, and distrusting Belisarius more 
than formerly, had retained the greater part of his 
body-guard, and all his veteran followers, at Con- 
stantinople ; so that he now appeared in Italy 
unaccompanied by a staff, and a body of household 
troops, whose experience and discipline could secure 
implicit obedience to his orders from the hetero- 
geneous elements of which his army was composed. 
The position of the Roman general was rendered 
still more disadvantageous, when compared with the 
change that had taken place in that of his enemy. 
Totila was now able to command every sacrifice ; for 
the Goths, taught by their misfortunes, and deprived 
of their wealth, felt the importance of union and 
discipline, and paid the strictest attention to the 
orders of their sovereign. In vain Belisarius 
established himself at Porto, on the mouth of the 
Tiber; all his endeavours to relieve Rome proved 
unsuccessful, and Totila became master of the city 
under his eye, and in spite of all his exertions. 
The national and religious feelings of the orthodox 

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Romans, rendered them the irreconcileable enemies 
of the Arian Goths. Totila knew the impossibility 
of defending the immense extent of the fortifications 
of Rome, against a scientific enemy, and a hostile 
population, and the necessity of utterly destroying 
the " eternal" city, suggested itself to his mind. 
He commenced the destruction of the walls, but 
either the difficulty of completing his project, or the 
feelings of humanity which were inseparable from 
his enlightened ambition, induced him to listen to 
the representations of Belisarius, who conjured him 
to abandon his barbarous scheme of devastation. 
Totila, nevertheless, did every thing in his power to 
depopulate Rome ; he compelled the inhabitants to 
retire into the campania, and forced the senators to 
abandon their native city. It is to this emigration 
that the utter extinction of the old Roman race and 
civic government must be attributed ; for when 
Belisarius, and, at a later period, Totila himself, 
attempted to repeople Rome, they laid the founda- 
tions of a new society, which connects itself rather 
with the history of the middle ages, than with that 
of preceding times. 

Belisarius entered the city after the departure of 
the Goths ; and as he found it completely deserted, 
he had the greatest difficulty in putting it in a state 
of defence. But though Belisarius was enabled, by 
his military skill, to defend Rome against the attacks 
of Totila, he was unable to make any head against 
the Gothic army in the open field, and after vainly 
endeavouring to bring back victory to the Roman 
standards in Italy, he received permission to resign 
the command, and return to Constantinople. His 

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want of success must be attributed solely to the 
inadequacy of the means placed at his disposal, for 
encountering an active and able sovereign like 
Totila. The unpopularity of his second administra- 
tion in Italy arose from the neglect of Justinian in 
paying the troops, and the necessity which that 
irregularity imposed on their commander, of levying 
heavy contributions on the Italians, while it ren- 
dered the task of enforcing strict discipline, and of 
protecting the property of the people from the ill 
paid soldiery, quite impracticable. Justice, however, 
requires, that we should not omit to mention, that 
Belisarius, though he returned to Constantinople 
with diminished glory, did not neglect his pecuniary 
interests, and came back without any diminution of 
his wealth. 

As soon as Totila was freed from the restraint 
imposed on his movements by the fear of Belisarius, 
he quickly recovered Rome ; and the loss of Italy 
appeared inevitable, when Justinian decided on 
making a new effort to retain it. As it was necessary 
to send a large army against the Goths, and invest 
the commander-in-chief with great powers, it is not 
probable that Justinian would have trusted any 
other of his generals more than Belisarius, had he 
not fortunately possessed an able officer, the Eunuch 
Narses, who could never rebel with the hope of 
placing the imperial crown on his own head. The 
assurance of his fidelity gave him great influence in 
the interior of the palace, and secured him a support 
which would never have been conceded to any 
other general. His military talents, and his freedom 
from the reproach of avarice or peculation, augmented 


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his personal influence, and his diligence and liberality 
soon assembled a powerful army. The choicest 
mercenary troops in the world, Huns, Ileruls, 
Armenians, and Lombards, marched under his stan- 
dard with the veteran Roman soldiers. The first 
object of Narses, after his arrival in Italy, was to 
force the Goths to risk a general engagement, 
trusting to the excellence of his troops, and to his 
own slcill in the employment of their superior 
discipline. The rival armies met at Tagina, near 
Noccra, and the victory of Narses was complete.* 
Totila, and six thousand Goths, perished, and Rome 
again fell under the dominion of Justinian. At the 
solicitations of the Goths, an army of Franks and 
Germans was permitted by Theobald, king of 
Astrasia, to enter Italy for the purpose of making a 
diversion in their favour.f Bucelin, the leader of 
this army, was met by Narses on the banks of the 
Casilinus, near Capua. The forces of the Franks 
consisted of thirty thousand men, those of the 
Romans did not exceed eighteen thousand, but the 
victory of Narses was so complete, that but few of 
the former escaped. The remaining Goths were 
soon destroyed, and Narses turned his whole 
attention to the civil government of his conquests, 
and to establishing security of property, and a strict 
administration of justice. He appears to have been 
a man singularly well adapted to his situation — 
possessing the highest military talents, combined 
with a perfect knowledge of the civil and financial 
administration; and he was consequently able to 

* Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vii. 385, note, 
t Theobald reigned from A. D. 548 to 555. 

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estimate with exactness the sum which he could levy 
on the province, and remit to Constantinople, without 
arresting the gradual improvement of the country. 
His fiscal government was, nevertheless, regarded 
by the Italian as extremely severe, and he was 
unpopular with the inhabitants of Rome. 

The existence of a numerous Roman population 
in Spain, connected with the eastern empire by the 
memory of ancient ties, and by activg commercial 
relations, and of a strong orthodox feeling against 
the Arian Visigoths, enabled Justinian to avail him- 
self of these advantages, in the same manner as he 
had done in Africa and Italy. The king Theudes 
had attempted to make a diversion in Africa, by 
besieging Ceuta, in order to call off the attention 
of Justinian from Italy. His attack was unsuccess- 
ful, but the circumstances were not favourable at 
the time for Justinian's attempting to revenge the 
injury.* Dissensions in the country soon enabled 
him to take part in a civil war, and he seized the 
pretext of sending a fleet and troops to support the 
claims of a rebel chief, in order to secure the 
possession of a large portion of the south of Spain.f 
The rebel Athanagild, having been elected king of the 
Visigoths, vainly endeavoured to drive the Romans 
out of the provinces which they had occupied. 
Subsequent victories extended the conquests of the 
Romans from the mouth of the Tagus, from Ebora, 
and Corduva, along the coast of the ocean, and of 
the Mediterranean, almost as far as Valentia ; and at 

* A. D. 545. Procop. De hello Goth. 11. c. 30. 

t Agila was elected king A. D. 549; he was murdered, and the rebel 
Athanagild elected in 554. 

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times, their relations with the catholic population of 
the interior, enabled them to carry their arms 
almost into the centre of Spain.* Of these distant 
conquests, the eastern empire retained possession 
for about sixty years. 


The reign of Justinian is remarkable for the total 
decline of the pow r er of the Germanic and Gothic 
people on the banks of the Danube, and the 
establishment of the complete supremacy of the 
Huns, Sclavonians, and Bulgarians. The causes of 
this change are to be found in the same great 
principle which was modifying the position of the 
various races of mankind, in every region of the 
earth ; in the decline of all the elements of 
civilization in the country immediately to the south 
of the Danube, in consequence of the repeated 
ravages to which it had been exposed ; and in the 
impossibility of any population, not sunk very low 
in the scale of civil society, finding the means of 
subsistence in such a scene of misery. The Goths, 
who had once ruled all the country, from the Lake 
Maeotis to the Adriatic, were the first to disappear ; 
and only a single tribe, called the Tetraxits, 
continued to inhabit their old seats in the Tauric 
Chersonese, where their descendants are supposed 

• Dr Joseph Abchbach, QmckickU der Wetgotktn, p. 192. Le Beau, 
Hittolre du Ba§- Empire y ix. 306, — Saint Martin. 

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to have existed until the fifteenth century.* The 
Gepids, a kindred people, had defeated the Huns, 
and established their independence, after the death 
of Attila.f They obtained from Marcian the 
cession of a considerable district on the banks of 
the Danube, and an annual subsidy, in order to 
secure their alliance ; but, in the reign of Justinian, 
their possessions were reduced to the territories 
lying between the Save and the Drave, though the 
alliance with the Roman empire continued in force, 
and they still received their subsidy. 

The Heruls, a people whose connection with 
Scandinavia is mentioned by Procopius,^: and who 
took part in some of the earliest incursions of the 
Gothic tribes into the empire, had, after many 
vicissitudes, obtained from the Emperor Anastasius 
a fixed settlement ; and in the time of Justinian, 
they possessed the country to the south of the Save, 
and occupied the city of Singidunum, (Belgrade.) 
The Lombards, a Germanic people, who had once 
been subject to the Heruls, but who had subse- 
quently defeated their masters, and driven them 
within the bounds of the empire for protection, 
were induced by Justininian to invade the Ostro- 
gothic kingdom, and establish themselves in 
Pannonia, to the north of the Drave. They 
occupied the country between the Danube and the 
Teisse, and, like their neighbours, received an 
annual subsidy from the eastern empire. $ These 

* Gibbon, vii. 133, note. f Jornandeb, De Rebus Geticit, xvii. 

t Procopius, De hello Goth. ii. 15. 

§ The Lombards are mentioned by Strabo, lib. vii. Velleius Patbr- 
culus, ii. 106. Tacitus, De M. G. c. 40. Annal. ii. 45. Procopius, De 
bello Goth. iii. 33. 

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Gothic nations never formed the bulk of the popu- 
lation in the lands which they occupied ; they were 
only the lords of the soil, who knew no occupations 
but those of war and hunting. But their successes 
in war, and the subsidies by which they had been 
enriched, had accustomed them to a degree of rude 
magnificence which became constantly of more 
difficult attainment, as their own oppressive 
government, and the ravages of their more barbarous 
neighbours, depopulated all the regions around their 
settlements. At last they abandoned their posses- 
sions to seek richer seats, as the Indians of the 
American continent quit the lands where wild 
game becomes rare, and plunge into new forests. 

Beyond the territory of the Lombards, the 
country to the East was inhabited by various tribes 
of Sclavonians, who occupied a great part of 
Hungary and Wallachia, and who had formed the 
basis of the population of many of the lands ruled 
by the Goths, from the earliest periods.* The 
independent Sclavonians were, at this time, a nation 
of savage robbers, in the lowest condition of social 
civilization, and whose ravages and incursions were 
rapidly tending to reduce all their neighbours to the 
same state of barbarism. Their plundering expedi- 
tions were chiefly directed against the rural 
population of the empire, and were often pushed 
many days' journey to the south of the Dunube. 
Their cruelty was dreadful ; but neither their 

* We at last possess a really learned work of classic authority, accessible 
to the readers of German, on the subject of Sclavonian history and 
antiquities, in the Slaritche Alterthiimer, Von P. J. Schafarik. DeuUck. 
Von Mosuj Von Aehrtnfdd, herausgegebi'n Von II. Wultke, 1. band. 
Leipsig, 1843, 8vo. 

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numbers, nor their military power excited, at this 
time, any alarm that they would be able to effect 
any permanent conquests within the bounds of the 

The Bulgarians, a nation of Hunnish or Finnish 
race, occupied the eastern parts of ancient Dacia, 
from the Carpathian mountains to the Dneister ; and 
beyond them, as far as the plains to the east of 
the Tanais, the country was still ruled by the 
Huns. This people had separated into two inde- 
pendent kingdoms ; that to the west was called the 
Kotigour ; and the other, to the east, the Utigour. 
The Huns had conquered the whole Tauric Cher- 
sonese ; but the cities of Cherson and Bosporus 
had soon thrown off their yoke, and, with the 
assistance of Roman garrisons, they easily defended 
themselves against the barbarians. The importance 
of the commercial relations which they kept up 
between the northern and southern nations, was 
so advantageous to all parties, that while the carrying 
trade of the Black Sea secured wealth and power to 
these distant Greek colonies, it also maintained 
them in possession of a considerable degree of 
political independence.* 

In the early part of Justinian's reign, A. D. 528, 
the city of Bosporus was taken and plundered by 
the Huns. It was soon recovered by an expedition 

* Procopius, De beUo Goth. iv. 18. For proofs that the Huns at one 
time possessed all the Crimea, De jEdificiit, iii. 7 ; De beUo Pert. i. 12. 
That Roman garrisons occupied Cherson and Bosporus in the time of Justin, 
Pert. i. 12, and of Justinian, Theophanis Chron. p. 159. Procopius, 
De beUo Pert. i. 12, speaks of Cherson, the last city of the Roman empire, as 
twenty days' journey from the city of Bosporus. To what Cherson does he 
allude ? There was a city of this name near the modern Warna. Theophanis 
Chron. 153. 

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fitted out by the emperor at Odyssopolis, ( Warna) ; 
but these repeated conquests of a mercantile 
emporium, and an agricultural colony, by pastoral 
nomads like the Huns, and by mercenary soldiers 
like the imperial army, must have had a very 
depressing effect on the prosperity of these last 
resorts of Greek civilization in the north. The 
increasing barbarism of the inhabitants of these 
regions, rendered the commerce, which had once 
flourished in these lands, but very trifling. The 
hordes of plundering nomads, who never remained 
long in one spot, had little to sell, and did not 
possess the means of purchasing foreign luxuries ; 
and the language and manners of the Greeks, which 
had once been prevalent all around the shores of the 
Euxine, began from this time to fell into neglect.* 
The various Greek cities which still maintained 
some portion of their social and municipal insti- 
tutions, received many severe blows during the 
reign of Justinian. The towns of Kepoi and 
Phanagoris, situated near the Cimmerian Bosporus, 
were taken by the Huns.f Sebastopolis, or 
Diospolis, and Pityontis, distant two days' journey 
from one another, on the eastern shores of the 
Euxine, were abandoned by their garrisons during 
the Colchian war ; and the conquests of the Avars 
at last confined the influence of the Roman empire, 
and the trade and civilization of the Greeks, to the 
cities of Bosporus and Cherson.t 

• P&ocopius, De bcllo Groth, iv. 7. 'EkknvS^wrtt •! *&(***. Agathias, 
). iv. p. 108, mentions that the chiefs of the Lazes understood Greek. 

t Procopius, Dt Ml, Goth, iv. 5. 

t In the reign of Tiberius the Second, (A. D. 580,) a Turkish army 
besieged and took Bosporus, and established itself for some time in the 

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It is necessary to record a few incidents to mark 
the progress of barbarism, poverty, and depopulation 
in the lands to the south of the Danube, and to 
explain the causes which compelled the Roman and 
Greek races to abandon their settlements in these 
countries. Though the commencement of Jus- 
tinian's reign was illustrated by a signal defeat of 
the Antes, a powerful Sclavonian tribe, still the 
invasions of that people were soon renewed with all 
their former vigour. In the year 533, they defeated 
and slew Chilbudius, a Roman general of great 
reputation, though his name indicates his northern 
origin. In 538, a band of Bulgarians defeated the 
Roman army charged with the defence of the 
country, captured the general Constantiolus, and 
compelled him to purchase his liberty by the 
payment of one thousand pounds of gold, — a sum 
sufficient for the ransom of the flourishing city of 
Antioch, in the eyes of the Persian monarch 
Chosroes.* In 539, the Gepids ravaged Illyria, 
and the Huns laid waste the whole country from 
the Adriatic to the long wall which protected 
Constantinople. Cassandra was taken, and the 
peninsula of Pallene plundered ; the fortifications of 
the Thracian Chersonese were forced, and a body 
of the Huns crossed over the Dardanelles into Asia, 
while another, after ravaging Thessaly, turned 
Thermopylae, and plundered Greece as far as the 
Isthmus of Corinth. In this expedition, the Huns 
are said to have collected and carried away one 
hundred and twenty thousand prisoners, chiefly 

* A. D. 540. Chosroes offered to leave Antioch unattackcd for lOOOlbs. 
of gold ; his offer was refused, and he took the city. 

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belonging to the rural population of the Greek 
provinces.* The fortifications erected by Justinian, 
and the attention which these misfortunes com- 
pelled him to pay to the efficiency of his troops on 
the northern frontier, restrained the incursions of 
the barbarians for some years after this fearful 
foray ; but in 548, the Sclavonians again ravaged 
Tllyria to the very walls of Dyrrachium, murdering 
the inhabitants, or carrying away their slaves, in 
face of a Roman army of fifteen thousand men, 
unable to arrest their progress.! I n 5j>0, fresh 
incursions desolated Illyria and Thrace. Topirus, a 
flourishing city on the Egean Sea, was taken by 
assault, and fifteen thousand of the inhabitants were 
massacred, while an immense number of women 
and children were carried away into captivity. In 
551, an eunuch named Scholasticus, who was 
intrusted by the defence of Thrace, was defeated 
by the barbarians near Adrianople. Next year, the 
Sclavonians again entered Tllyria and Thrace, and 
these provinces were reduced to such a state of 
disorder, that an exiled Lombard prince, who was 
dissatisfied with the rank and treatment which he 
had received from Justinian, taking advantage of the 
confusion, fled from Constantinople with a company 
of the imperial guards and a few of his own 
countrymen, and after traversing all Thrace and 
Tllyria, plundering the country as he passed, and 
evading the imperial troops, at last reached the 
country of the Gepids in safety. Even Greece, 
though usually secure from its distance and its 

* Procopius, De belio Pen. u, 4. 
t Ibid. he bdlo Goth. iii. 29. 

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mountain passes, against the incursions of the 
northern nations, did not escape the general 
destruction of all which constitutes civilization. 
Totila despatched a fleet of three hundred vessels 
from Italy to ravage Corfou, and the coast of Epirus, 
and this expedition plundered Nicopolis and 
Dodona.* To such a state was part of the country 
to the south of the Danube reduced, that Justinian, 
in order to repeople it, permitted a body of Huns to 
occupy permanent settlements within the empire; 
and thus the Roman government began to consent to 
replace the agricultural population of past days by 
a horde of nomad herdsmen, and abandoned the 
defence of civilization, as a vain struggle against the 
increasing strength of barbarism.f 

The most celebrated invasion of the empire, 
though by no means the most destructive, was that 
of Zabergan, the king of the Kutigour Huns, who 
crossed the Danube in the year 559. Its historical 
fame is derived from its success in approaching the 
wall of Constantinople, and because its defeat was 
the last military exploit of Belisarius. Zabergan had 
divided his army into three divisions, and he found 
the country every where so destitute of defence, that 
he ventured to advance on the capital with one 
division, which amounted to seven thousand men. 
After all the lavish and injudicious expenditure of 
Justinian, in building forts, and erecting fortifica- 
tions, he had allowed the long wall of Anastasius to 
fall into such a state of delapidation, that Zabergan 
passed it without difficulty, and advanced to within 

* Procopius, Dt btUo Goth. iv. 22. t Ibid. iv. 27. 

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fifteen miles of Constantinople, before he encountered 
any serious resistance. Belisarius was then called 
from his retirement, and easily drove back the 
Huns, who withdrew to Arcadiopolis, on Mount 
Rhodope. The modern historian must be afraid of 
conveying a false impression of the weakness of the 
empire, and of the neglect of the government, if he 
venture to transcribe the ancient accounts of this 
expedition ; yet the miserable picture which is drawn 
of the close of Justinian's reign, is supported by the 
history of the misfortunes of his successors. As 
the wars with the Persians and Goths had ceased, 
the empire was in a state of peace, and yet the 
military forces of Justinian, whose reign had been 
distinguished by many distant conquests, which his 
armies still garrisoned, were insufficient to protect 
the roads to the capital, and the country in the 
immediate vicinity of his palace. 

The division of the Huns sent against the Thracian 
Chersonese was as unsuccessful as the main body 
of the army. But while the Huns were incapable 
of forcing the wall which defended the isthmus, they 
so utterly despised the Roman garrison, that six 
hundred ventured to embark on rafts, in order to 
paddle round the fortifications. The Byzantine 
general possessed twenty galleys, and with this naval 
force he easily destroyed all the Huns who had 
ventured to sea. A well-timed sally on the 
barbarians who had witnessed the destruction of 
their comrades, routed the remainder, and shewed 
them that their contempt of the Roman soldiery had 
been carried too far. The third division of the 
Huns had been ordered to advance through Mace- 

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<lonia and Thessaly. It had penetrated, in fact, as 
far as Thermopylae, but it was not very successful in 
collecting plunder, and retreated with as little glory 
as the other two. 

Justinian, who had seen a barbarian, at the head 
of an army of twenty thousand men, ravage a con- 
siderable portion of his empire, instead of pursuing 
and crushing the invader, engaged the king of the 
Utigour Huns, by a lavish employment of promises 
and money, to attack Zabergan. These intrigues 
were successful, and the dissensions of the two 
monarchs prevented the Huns from again attacking 
the empire. In a few years after, Avars invaded 
Europe, and by subduing both the Hunnish king- 
doms, gave the Roman emperor a far more 
dangerous and powerful neighbour, than had lately 
threatened his northern frontier. 

The Turks and the Avars become politically 
known to the Greeks, for the first time, towards the 
end of Justinian's reign. Since that period the 
Turks have always continued to occupy a memorable 
place in the history of mankind, as the destroyers of 
ancient civilization. In their progress towards the 
West, they were preceded by the Avars, a people, 
whose arrival in Europe produced the greatest 
alarm, whose dominion was soon widely extended, 
but whose complete extermination, or amalgamation 
with their subjects, leaves the history of their race a 
problem never likely to receive a very satisfactory 
solution. The Avars are supposed to have been a 
portion of the inhabitants of a powerfiil Asiatic 
empire, which figures in the annals of China as 
ruling a great part of the centre of Asia, and 

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extending to the Gulf of Corea. The noblest caste 
of the ruling race of the Avars may perhaps have 
belonged to the same family as the Asiatic Scythians, 
if the testimony of Theophylactus Simocatta, as to 
their Scythian origin, be admitted literally, — a testi- 
mony which derives strong support from the fact 
mentioned by Menander, that the Turks, who had 
been the subjects of these Avars, made use of the 
Scythian characters in their written communications 
with Justinian.* The great empire of the Avars was 
overthrown by a rebellion of their Turkish subjects, 
and the noblest caste soon became lost to history, 
amidst the revolutions of the Chinese empire. 

The original seats of the Turks were in the 
country round the great chain of Mount Altai. As 
subjects of the Avars, they had been distinguished 
by their skill in working and tempering iron ; their 
industry had procured them wealth, and wealth had 
inspired them with the desire for independence. 
After throwing off the yoke of the Avars, they 
waged war with that people until they destroyed the 
Avar empire, and compelled the military strength of 
the nation to fly before them in two separate bodies. 
One of these divisions fell back on China ; the other 
advanced into western Asia, and at last entered 
Europe. The Turks extended their conquests, and 
in a few years their dominions extended from 
the Wolga, and the Caspian Sea, to the shores of 
the ocean, or the Sea of Japan, and from the banks 

* Thboph. Sim. vii. 8. Menander, p. 298, ed. Bonn. For historical in- 
formation on the Scythian race, see Schafarik's Slavishe Alterthumer, p. 267. 
But the ruling race of the Asiatic Scythians may have been of some foreign 
stock, and used its own native language and letters. 

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of the Oxus (Gihoun) to the deserts of Siberia. The 
western army of the Avars, increased by many tribes 
who feared the Turkish government, advanced into 
Europe as a nation of conquerors, and not as a band 
of fugitives. The mass of this army is supposed to 
have been composed of people of the Hunnish or 
Finnish race, because the people who afterwards 
bore the Avar name in Europe seem to have 
belonged to that family. It must not, however, be 
forgotten, that even the mighty army of the Avars 
might easily, in a few generations, lose all national 
peculiarities, and forget its native language, amidst 
the greater number of its Hunnish subjects, even if 
we should suppose the two races to have been 
derived from totally different stocks, if the state of 
their mutual civilization allowed them to mix toge- 
ther in social life. The Avars, however, are some- 
times styled Turks, even by the earliest historians, 
apparently from their making use of the term in 
the vague manner in which the ancients applied the 
appellation of Scythian, and the moderns that of 
Tartar, to all the nomad nations from the same 
countries. The use of the appellation Turk, in an 
extended sense, is found in Thcophylactus Simocatta, 
a writer possessing considerable knowledge of the 
affairs of eastern Asia, and who speaks of the inhabi- 
tants of the flourishing kingdom of Taugus as Turks.* 
This application of the term appears to have arisen 
from the circumstance, that the part of China to 
which he alluded, had been subject, at the time, 
to a foreign, or in his phrase, a Turkish dynasty. 

* TUEOPH. SlM. vii. 7. "E&v»* aXxifitirartt ««j tr«At/a»3f*r«Tar«» tea.) r»7$ 
nark rht hxivpitni i$rfri, ha re piyifaf, **apak\nk$*. 

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The Avars, after they had entered Europe, soon 
conquered all the countries to the banks of the 
Danube, and before Justinian's death, they were 
firmly established, as far west as the borders of 
Pannonia. Their pursuers, the Turks, did not visit 
Europe until a later period ; but they extended their 
conquests in central Asia, where they destroyed the 
kingdom of the Hephthalite Huns to the east of 
Persia, a part of which Chosroes had already sub- 
dued. They engaged in long wars with the Persians ; 
but it is sufficient to pass over the history of the 
first Turkish empire with this slight notice, as it 
exercised but a very trifling direct influence on the 
fortunes of the Greek nation. The wars of the 
Turks and Persians tended, however, greatly to 
weaken the Persian empire, to reduce its resources, 
and increase the oppression of the internal admini- 
stration, by the call for extraordinary exertions, and 
thus prepared the way for the easier conquest of the 
country by the followers of Mohammed. 

The sudden appearance of the Avars and Turks 
in history, marks the singular void which a long 
period of vicious government had created, in regions 
which were once populous and flourishing. Both 
occupied an important position in the destruction of 
the frame of ancient society in Europe and Asia; 
but neither of them contributed any thing to the 
reorganization of the political, social, or religious 
condition of the modern world. Both empires soon 
fell to decay, and the very nations were almost lost to 
history. The Avars, after having attempted the con- 
quest of Constantinople, became at last extinct,and the 
Turks, after having been long forgotten, slowly rose to 

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a high degree of power, and at length achieved the 
conquest which their ancient rivals had vainly 



The Asiatic frontier of the Roman empire was 
less favourable for attack than defence. The range 
of Caucasus was occupied, as it still is, by a cluster 
of small nations of various languages, strongly 
attached to their independence, which the nature 
of their country enabled them to maintain, amidst 
the wars and conflicting negotiations of the Romans, 
Persians, and Huns, by whom they were surrounded. 
The kingdom of Calchis (Mingrelia) was a state in 
permanent alliance with the Romans, and the sove- 
reign was a tributary, who received a regular 
investiture from the emperor. The Tzans, who 
inhabited the mountains about the sources of the 
Phasis, enjoyed a subsidiary alliance with Justinian, 
until their plundering expeditions, within the pre- 
cincts of the empire, induced him to garrison their 
country. Iberia, to the east of Colchis, almost the 
modern Georgia, formed an independent kingdom 
under the protection of Persia. 

Armenia, as an independent kingdom, had long 
formed a slight counterpoise between the Roman 
and Persian empires. In the reign of Theodosius 
the Second, it had been partitioned by its powerful 
neighbours ; and about the year 429, it had lost the 
shadow of independence, which it had been allowed 


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to retain. The greater part of Armenia had fallen 
to the share of the Persians ; but, as the people 
were Christians, and possessed their own church and 
literature, they had maintained their nationality 
uninjured, after the loss of their political govern- 
ment. The western, or Roman part of Armenia, 
was bounded by the mountains in which the Araxes, 
the Boas, and the Euphrates take their rise ; and it 
was defended against Persia by the fortress of 
Theodosiopolis, (Erzeroam,) situated on the very 
frontier of Pers-Armenia.* From Theodosiopolis 
the empire was bounded by ranges of mountains 
which cross the Euphrates, and extend to the River 
Nymphaeus, and here the city of Martyropolis, 
the capital of Roman Armenia, east of the 
Euphrates, was situated, f From the junction of 
the Nymphscus with the Tigris, the frontier again 
followed the mountains to Dara, and from thence it 
proceeded to the Chaboras, and the fortress of 

The Arabs or Saracens, who inhabited the district 
between Kirkesium and Idumsea, were divided into 
two kingdoms, — that of Ghassan, towards Syria, 
maintained an alliance with the Romans ; and that 
of Hira, to the east, enjoyed the protection of 
Persia. Palmyra, which had fallen into ruins after 
the time of Theodosius the Second, was repaired 
and garrisoned ;J and the country between the 
Gulfs of Ailath and Suez, forming a province called 

* Sunt Martin. Memoiret Hiitoriqutt et Geographiquts $nr PArmenie, 

t This was called the Fourth Armenia. Juttiniani Not. xxxi. 
X Malays Ch. pr, ii. p. 53. ed. Venet 

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the Third Palestine, was protected by a fortress 
constructed at the foot of Mount Sinai, and occu*- 
pied by a strong body of troops.* 

Such a frontier, though it presented great diffi- 
culties in the way of invading Persia, afforded 
admirable means for protecting the empire ; and, 
accordingly, it had very rarely, indeed, happened, that 
a Persian army had ever penetrated into a Roman 
province. It was reserved for Justinian's reign to 
behold the Persians contribute to the ruin of the 
wealth, and the destruction of the civilization, of 
some of the most flourishing and enlightened poi> 
tions of the eastern empire. The wars which 
Justinian carried on with Persia, reflect little glory 
on his reign ; but the celebrated name of his rival* 
the great Chosroes Nushirvan, has rendered his 
misfortunes and misconduct venial in the eyes of 
historians. The Persian and Roman empires were, 
at this time, nearly equal in power and civilization : 
both were ruled by princes whose reigns form 
national epochs ; yet history affords ample evidence, 
that the brilliant exploits of both these sovereigns 
were effected by a wasteful expenditure of the 
national resources, and by a consumption of the 
capital of their empires, which proved irremediable. 
The inhabitants of neither empires were ever able 
to regain their former state of prosperity, nor could 
society recover the shock which it had received ; as 
the governments were too demoralized to venture 
on a political reform, and the people too ignorant* 
and too feeble, to attempt a national revolution. 

* Pbocopius, JEdtye. v. 8. Le Brku, Hktoirc du Bat-Empire, viii. 115. 

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The governments of declining countries, often give 
but slight signs of their weakness and approaching 
dissolution, as long as the ordinary relations of war 
and peace require to be maintained only with 
habitual friends or enemies, though the slightest 
exertion, created by extraordinary circumstances, 
may cause the political fabric to fall to pieces. The 
armies of the eastern empire, and of Persia, had, by 
long acquaintance with the military force of one 
another, found the means of balancing any peculiar 
advantage of their enemy, by a modification of 
tactics, or by an improvement in military discipline, 
which neutralized its effect. War between the two 
states was consequently carried on, according to a 
regular routine of service, and was continued during 
a succession of campaigns, in which much blood and 
treasure were expended, and much glory gained, 
with very little change in the relative military 
power, and none in the frontiers, of the two 

The avarice of Justinian, or his inconstant plans, 
often induced him to leave the eastern frontier of 
the empire very inadequately garrisoned ; and this 
frontier presented an extent of country, against 
which a Persian army, concentrated behind the 
Tigris, could choose its point of attack. The option 
of carrying the war into Syria, Mesopotamia, 
Armenia, or Colchis, generally lay with the Persians ; 
and Chosroes attempted to penetrate into the 
empire by every portion of this frontier during his 
long wars. The Roman army, in spite of the change 
which had taken place in its arms and organization, 
still retained its superiority in discipline and tactics. 

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The war, in which Justinian found the empire 
engaged on his succession, was terminated by a 
peace, which the Romans purchased by the payment 
of eleven thousand pounds of gold to Chosroes. The 
Persian monarch required peace to regulate the affairs 
of his own kingdom ; and the calculation of Justinian, 
that the sum which he paid to Persia, was much 
less than the expense of continuing the war, though 
correct, was injudicious, as it really conveyed an 
admission of inferiority and weakness. Justinian's 
object had been, to place the great body of his 
military forces at liberty, in order to direct his 
exclusive attention to recovering the lost provinces 
of the western empire. Had he availed himself of 
peace with Persia, to diminish the burdens on his 
subjects, and consolidate the defence of his frontiers, 
instead of extending them, he might, perhaps, have 
re-established the power of the Roman empire. As 
soon as Chosroes heard of the conquests of Justinian 
in Africa, Sicily, and Italy, his jealousy iuduced him 
to renew the war. The solicitations of the embassy 
sent by Witiges, are said to have had some effect in 
determining him to take up arms. 

Belisarius served against the Persians in this war, 
as he had done in the former ; but he was ill sup- 
ported, and his success was by no means brilliant. 
The fact that he saved Syria from utter devastation, 
nevertheless rendered his campaign of 543 by no 
means unimportant for the empire. This war was 
carried on for twenty years, but during the latter 
period of its duration, military operations were con- 
fined to Colchis. It was terminated in 562, by a 
truce for fifty years, which effected little change in 

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the frontiers of the empire. The most remarkable 
clause of this treaty of peace, imposed on Justinian 
the disgraceful obligation of paying Chosroes an 
annual subsidy of thirty thousand pieces of gold ; 
and he was compelled immediately to advance the 
sum of two hundred and ten thousand, to pay for 
seven years. The sum, it is true, was not very great, 
but the condition of the Roman empire was sadly 
changed, when it became necessary to purchase 
peace from all its neigbours with gold, and with 
gold to find mercenary troops to carry on its wars. 
The moment, therefore, a supply of gold failed, the 
safety of the Roman power was compromised. 

The weakness of the Roman empire, and the 
necessity of finding allies in the East, in order to 
secure a share of the lucrative commerce, of which 
Persia had long possessed a monopoly, induced 
Justinian to keep up friendly communications with 
the king of Ethiopia, (Abyssinia.) Elesboas, who 
then occupied the Ethiopian throne, was a prince of 
great power, and a steady ally of the Romans. The 
wars of this Christian monarch in Arabia, are related 
by the historians of the empire; and Justinian 
endeavoured, by his means, to transfer the silk trade 
with India, from Persia, to the route by the Red Sea. 
The attempt failed, from the great length of the sea 
voyage, and the difficulties of adjusting the inter- 
mediate commerce of the countries, on this line of 
communication ; but still the trade of the Red Sea 
was so great, that the king of Ethiopia, in the reign 
of Justin, was able to collect a fleet of seven hundred 
native vessels, and six hundred Roman and Persian 
merchantmen, which he employed to transport his 

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troops into Arabia.* The diplomatic relations of 
Justinian, with the Avars and Turks, and particularly 
with the latter nation, were influenced by the posi- 
tion of the Roman empire with regard to Persia, 
both in a commercial and political point of view.f 



Until the northern nations conquered the southern 
provinces of the western empire, the commerce of 
Europe was in the hands of the subjects of the 
Roman emperors ; and the monopoly of the Indian 
trade, its most lucrative branch, was almost exclu- 
sively possessed by the Greeks.^ But the invasions 
of the barbarians, by diminishing the wealth of the 
countries which they subdued, greatly diminished 
the demand for the valuable merchandize imported 
from the East ; and the financial extortions of the 
imperial government gradually impoverished the 
Greek population of Syria, Egypt, and Cyrenaica, 
the greater portion of which had derived its pros- 
perity from this now declining trade. In order to 
comprehend fully the change which must have 

• Le Beau, Histoire du Bat- Empire, viii. 60. 

t Theophanis Ch. 196. Malaub Ch. Pars, 2. p. 81, ed. Venet. 
Menander, exc. leg. p. 282. ed. Bonn. Theophanis Ch. 203. 

t " Minimaque computatione millies centena millia sestertium annis 
omnibus India et Seres, peninsulaque ilia, Arabia, imperio nostro adimunt, 
tanto nobis delicias et feininco constant" Plinii Hist. Nat. lib. xii 
c. xviii. 

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taken place in the commercial relations of the 
Greeks with the western portion of Europe, it is 
only necessary to compare the situation of each 
province, in the reign of Justinian, with its condi- 
tion in the time of Hadrian. Many countries which 
had once supported an extensive trade in articles of 
luxury imported from the East, became incapable of 
purchasing any foreign production, and could hardly 
supply a diminished and impoverished population 
with the mere necessaries of life.* The wines of 
Chios, Samos, Cyprus, Lesbos, Smyrna, Tripolis, 
Berytes, and Tyre; the woollen cloths of Miletus 
and Laodicea, the purple dresses of Tyre, Getulia, 
and Laconia, the cambric of Cos, the manuscripts of 
Egypt and Pergamus, the perfumes, spices, pearls, 
and jewels of India, the ivory, the slaves, and 
tortoiseshell of Africa, and the silks of China, were 
once abundant on the banks of the Rhine, and in 
the north of Britain. Treves and York were long 
wealthy and flourishing cities, where every foreign 
luxury and enjoyment could be obtained. Money 
then circulated freely, and trade was carried on 
with activity, far beyond the limits of the empire. 
The Greeks who traded in amber and fur, though 
they may have rarely visited the northern countries 
in person, maintained constant communications with 
these distant lands, and paid for the commodities 
which they imported, by inducing the barbarians to 
consume the luxuries, the spices, and the incense of 
the East. Nor was the trade in statues, pictures, 

* " Ex immensis opibua egentiseima est tandem Romaiia Rcspublica, 
impetitum oerarium est, urbes exinanitae, populate provincial." Ammianis 
Marcellinus, xxiv. c. 3. 

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vases, and objects of art in marble, metals, earthen- 
ware, ivory, and painting, a trifling branch of com- 
merce, as it may be conjectured from the relics 
which are now so frequently found, after having 
remained concealed for ages beneath the soil. 

In the time of Justinian, Britain, Gaul, Rhaetia, 
Panonia, Noricum, and Vindelicia, were reduced to 
such a state of poverty and desolation, that their 
foreign commerce was almost annihilated, and even 
their internal trade was often reduced to a trifling 
exchange of the rudest commodities. Even the 
south of Gaul, Spain, Italy, Africa, and Sicily, had 
suffered a great decrease of population and wealth 
under the government of the Goths and Vandals ; 
and though their cities still carried on a considerable 
commerce with the East, that commerce was very 
much less than it had been in the times of the 
empire.* As the greater part of the trade of the 
Mediterranean was in the hands of the Greeks, 
the interest of their trade gave a peculiar character 
to a large portion of the Greek population, and this 
population was often regarded in the West as the 
type of the inhabitants of the eastern Roman 
empire. The mercantile class was generally regarded 
by the barbarians, as favouring the Roman cause ; 
and probably not without reason, as their interests 
must have required them to keep up constant 
communications with the empire. When Belisarius 
touched at Sicily, on his way to attack the Vandals, 
Procopius found a friend at Syracuse, who was a 

* Vidcs universa Italia) loca originariis viduata cultoribus, ct ilia mator 
kumanse messis Liguria, cui nunieroaa agricolarum solebat constare pro- 
genies, orbata atque eterilis jejunum cespitem nostrie monstrat obtutibus." 
Eu nodi us, v. St Epiph. Optra, ed. J. Sisinondi. Pari*, 161 1, p. 358. 

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merchant, carrying on extensive dealings in Africa, 
as well as with the East. The Vandals, when 
they were threatened by Justinian's expedition, 
threw many of the merchants of Carthage into 
prison, as they suspected them of favouring Beli- 
sarius. The laws adopted by the barbarians for 
regulating the trade of their native subjects,* and 
the dislike with which most of the Gothic nations 
viewed trade, manufactures, and commerce, natu- 
rally placed all the commercial and money transac- 
tions in the hands of strangers. When it happened 
that war or policy excluded the Greeks from 
participating in these transactions, they were 
entirely conducted by the Jews. We find, indeed, 
from the fall of the western empire, that the Jews, 
availing themselves of their commercial knowledge, 
and neutral political character, began to be very 
numerous in all the countries gained by conquest 
from the Romans, and particularly so, in those 
situated on the Mediterranean, which, from their 
position, maintained constant communications with 
the East. 

Several circumstances, however, during the reign 
of Justinian, contributed to augment the commercial 
transactions of the Greeks, and to give them a 

* " Prsetia debent communi deliberatione constitui : quia non est delectatio 
commercii qua? jubetur invitis." Sartorius, in citing this passage from a 
letter of King Athalaric, addressed to Gildia, comte of Syracuse, observes 
very justly, " J* cntends par les mots cUliberatio communis, non pas ce dont les 
acheteurs et vendeurs conviennent entre eux, ce qui serai t un commerce 
libre ; mais comrae il est prouv^ par tout ce qui precede, une vente et un 
achat d'apres les prix fixes d'un commun accord entre le niagistrat, re*vequc 
et le peuple, ce qui est prCcisdment le contraire." See Cassiodoei Varicp, 
xi. 14. Sartorius, Essai sur Vctat civil el politique de$ pcuples d'ltalie, sou* 
la gouzerncmciti d<* Gotfo, 333. 

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decided preponderance in the eastern trade. The 
long war with Persia cut off all those routes by 
which the Syrian and Egyptian population had 
maintained their ordinary communications with 
Persia ; and it was from Persia that they had always 
drawn their silk, and the greater part of their 
Indian commodities, such as muslins and jewels. 
This trade now began to seek two different channels, 
by both of which it avoided the dominions of 
Chosroes ; the one was to the north of the Caspian 
Sea, and the other through Arabia, from the shores 
of the Persian Gulf, and also by the Red Sea. The 
importance of the northern route, and the extent of 
the trade carried on by it through different ports on 
the Black Sea, are authenticated by the numerous 
colony of the inhabitants of central Asia, who had 
established it at Constantinople, in the reign of 
Justin the Second. Six hundred Turks availed 
themselves, at one time, of the security offered by 
the journey of a Roman ambassador, sent by that 
emperor to the great Khan of the Turks, by 
joining his train* This fact affords the strongest 
evidence of the great importance of this route, as 
there can be no question that the great number of 
the inhabitants of central Asia, who visited Con- 
stantinople, were attracted to it by their commercial 

The Indian commerce through Arabia and by 
the Red Sea, was also very important ; much more 
so, indeed, than the mere mention of Justinian's failure 
to establish a regular importation of silk by this. 

* Menander, p. 398, ed. Bonn. 

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route might lead us to suppose, or than we might be 
inclined to infer from the records which we possess of 
the political and military transactions of the Persian 
and Ethiopian empires. The immense number of 
trading vessels which habitually frequented the Red 
Sea, shews that the trade was very great. 

It is true, that the population of Arabia now first 
began to share its profits and feel its influence, but 
these must have been great, as the spirit of 
improvement and inquiry, which the excitement 
incident to this new field of enterprize, and the 
new subjects for thought which it opened, prepared 
the children of the desert for national union, and 
awakened the impulse which gave birth to the 
character of Mahommed. 

As the whole trade of western Europe, in Chinese 
and Indian productions, passed through the hands of 
the Greeks, its amount, though small in any one dis- 
trict, yet as a whole must have been large. It is not to 
be forgotten, that as the Greek mercantile population 
of the eastern empire had declined, though perhaps 
not yet in the same proportion as the other classes, 
the relative importance of the trade remained as 
great as ever, with regard to the general wealth of 
the empire ; and its profits were probably greater than 
formerly, since the restricted nature of the transac- 
tions, in the various localities, must have discouraged 
competitors, and produced the effects of a monopoly. 
Justinian was also fortunate enough to secure to the 
Greeks the complete control of the silk trade, by 
enabling them to share in the production and 
manufacture of this precious commodity. This 
trade had excited the attention of the Romans at 

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an early period, and one of the emperors, probably 
Marcus Aurelius, had sent an ambassador to the 
East, with the view of establishing commercial 
relations with the country where silk was produced, 
and this ambassador succeeded in reaching China.* 
Justinian long attempted in vain to open direct 
communications with China; but all his efforts to 
obtain a direct supply of silk either proved unavailing, 
or were attended with very partial success.f The 
people of the Roman empire were compelled to 
purchase the greater part of their silk from the 
Persians, who alone were able to supply the Chinese 
and Indian markets with the commodities suitable 
for that distant market. The Persians were, how- 
ever, unable to secure to themselves the monopoly 
of this profitable commerce ; for the high price of 
silk in the West, engaged the nations of central 
Asia to avail themselves of every opportunity of 
opening direct communications by land with China, 
and conveying it, by caravans, to the frontiers of 
the Roman empire. This trade followed various 
channels, according to the security which political 
circumstances afforded to the traders, and at times 
it was directed towards the frontiers of Armenia, 
while, at others, it proceeded as far north as the 
Sea of Asof. Jornandes, in speaking of Cherson 
at this time, calls it a city whence the merchant 
imports the produce of Asia4 

At a moment when Justinian must almost have 

* Gibbon, Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, vii. 97. Lb Beau, 
Histoire du Bat-Empire, ix. 222. Saint Martin. 

t Procopius, De bello Pers. i. 20. 

X Jornandes, De rebus (Mich, c. ii. " Juxta Chersonem, quo Asiae bona 
avidus mcrcator importat." 

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abandoned the hope of participating in the direct 
trade with China, he was fortunate enough to be 
put in possession of the means of cultivating silk in 
his own dominions. Christian missions had been 
the means of extending very widely the benefits of 
civilization. Christian missionaries first maintained 
a regular communication between Ethiopia and the 
Roman empire, and they had frequently visited 
China.* In the year 551, two monks, who had 
studied the method of rearing silk-worms, and 
winding silk, in China, succeeded in conveying a 
number of the eggs of the moth to Constantinople, 
enclosed in a cane. The emperor, delighted with 
the acquisition, granted them every assistance which 
they required, and encouraged their undertaking with 
great zeal. It would not, therefore, be just to deny 
to Justinian some share in the merit of having 
founded a flourishing branch of trade, which tended 
very materially to support the resources of the 
eastern empire, and to enrich the Greek nation for 
several centuries. 

The Greeks, at this time, maintained a superiority 
over the other people in the empire, chiefly by their 
commercial enterprise, which continued to preserve 
a degree of civilization in the trading cities, which 
was rapidly disappearing among the whole agricul- 
tural population. The Greeks, in general, were 
now almost on the same level with the Syrian, 
Egyptian, Armenian, and Jewish people. The 
Greeks in Cyrenai'ca, and the Egyptians in their 
native land, had suffered from the same government, 

* Versuch einer aUqemeincn Missions Geschkkte der KircJic von Blnmhardt. 
Basel, b. iii. 8. 40. An interesting work. 

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and declined in the same proportion. Of the decline 
of Egypt we possess exact information, which it may 
not be unprofitable to pass in review. In the reign 
of Augustus, Egypt furnished Rome with a tribute 
of twenty million of modii of grain annually,* and 
it was garrisoned, in ordinary circumstances, by a 
force rather exceeding twelve thousand regular 
troops.f Under Justinian, the tribute in grain was 
reduced to about five millions and a half modii, 
that is 800,000 artabas, and the Roman troops, to a 
cohort of six hundred men.t There can be little 
doubt, that even the reduced production, and dimi- 
nished prosperity of Egypt, were prevented from 
sinking still lower, by the exportation of a portion 
of its grain to supply the trading population on the 
shores of the Red Sea. We may infer, also, from 
this circumstance, that the canal connecting the 
Nile with the Red Sea, the great artery which 
circulated the eastern grain, and one of the anchors, 
as it were, of civilization in Egypt, was still in a 
state of active employment. 

About this period the Jewish nation attained a 
degree of importance which is worthy of attention, as 
explaining many circumstances connected with the 
history of the human race. It appears unquestionable, 
that the Jews had increased very much in the age 

• Aubelius Victor, ep. c. 1, u Ducenties centena millia modiorum." 
t More, certainly, under Augustus ; but under Tiberius, Nero, and Ves- 
pasian, the garrison was two legions. Tacitus, Ann. A. 5. Josephus, BslL 
Jud. ii. 16. 4. Tacitus, Hist. ii. 16. Varoes, Ik statu jEgypti 69. 

t Justinian, Edict, xiii. Ptolemy Philadelphia had only received 
1,500,000 artabas of grain as tribute, but he received a money revenue of 
14,800 talents, about L.2,500,000 sterling, and Egypt was now incapable of 
making any such payments. The customs of its ports, and the taxes of its 
towns, must have formed a comparatively small sum. 

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immediately preceding Justinian's reign. This in- 
crease is to be accounted for by the decline of the 
rest of the population in countries round the Medi- 
terranean, and the general decay of civilization. 
These circumstances afforded an opening for the 
Jews, whose social position, as a persecuted people, 
had been previously so bad, that the decline of their 
neighbours, at least, afforded them some relative 
improvement. The Jews, too, at this period, were 
the only neutral nation who could carry on their trade 
equally with the Persians, Ethiopians, Arabs, and 
Goths ; for, though they were hated every where, the 
universal dislike was a reason for tolerating a people 
never likely to form a common cause with any other. 
In Gaul, Italy, and Spain, they had risen to con- 
siderable importance ; and in Spain in particular, they 
carried on an extensive commerce, and established a 
trade in slaves, which excited the indignation of the 
Christian church, and which kings and ecclesiastical 
councils vainly endeavoured to destroy. The Jews 
generally found support from the barbarian monarchs ; 
and Theodoric the Great granted them every species 
of protection. Their alliance was often necessary to 
render the country independent of the funds and 
commerce of the Greeks.* 

To commercial jealousy, therefore, as well as 
religious zeal, we must attribute some of the per- 
secutions which the Jews sustained in the eastern 
empire. The conduct of the Roman government 
awakened that bitter nationality, and revengeful 
hatred of their enemies, which have always marked 

* Ed. Theml. art. 143. Cassiod. Var. iv. ep. 33, v. 37. 

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the energetic character of the Israelites; but the 
history of the injustice of one party, and of the 
crimes of the other, does not fall within the scope 
of this inquiry. 

The Greeks and Jews were at this period the 
most commercial people in the empire. The Arme- 
nians, who at present take a large share in the trade 
of the East, were then entirely occupied with war 
and religion, and appeared in Europe only as 
mercenary soldiers in the pay of Justinian, in whose 
service many attained the highest military rank. 
In civilization and literary attainments, the Arme- 
nians held, however, as high a rank as any of their 
contemporaries. In the year 551, their patriarch, 
Moses the Second, assembled a number of their 
learned men, in order to reform their calendar ; and 
they then fixed on the era which the Armenians 
have since continued to use.* It is true, that the 
numerous translations of Greek books which 
distinguished the literature of Armenia, were chiefly 
made during the preceding century, for the sixth 
only produced a few ecclesiastical works. The 
literary energy of Armena is remarkable, inasmuch 
as it excited the fears of the Persian monarch, 
who ordered that no Armenian should visit the 
empire to study at the Greek universities of Con- 
stantinople, Athens, or Alexandria. 

The literature of the Greek language ceased, from 
this time, to possess a national character, and became 
more identified with the government and governing 
classes of the eastern empire, and with the orthodox 

* Saint Martin, Mimoiret inr VArmenU, i. 330. C. F. Neumann, Venuch 
einer GuchickU der Armenwhen LitercUur, Leipzig, 1836, 8ro. p. 92. 


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church, than with the inhabitants of Greece. The 
fact is easily explained by the poverty of the native 
Hellenes, and by the position of the ruling caste in 
the Roman empire. The highest offices in the 
court, in the civil administration, and in the 
orthodox church, were filled with this Greco-Roman 
class; and this class sprung originally from the 
Macedonian conquerors of Asia, and now, proud of 
the Roman name, repudiated all idea of Greek 
nationality ; and, from its political views of Roman 
dominion, affected to treat Greek national distinc- 
tions as mere provincialism, at the very time it was 
acting under the impulse of Greek prejudices, both 
in the state and the church. The long existence of 
the new Platonic school of philosophy at Athens, 
seems to have been connected with Hellenic 
national feelings, and Justinian was doubtless 
induced to put an end to it, and drive its last 
teachers into banishment, from his hostility to all 
independent institutions. This Greek nationality 
also indicates the natural cause of the dissatisfaction 
of the Athenian philosophers during their residence 
in Persia. They fled from the persecutions of 
Justinian to the court of Chosroes ; but in spite of the 
favourable reception which they received, as enemies 
of the Roman emperor and of Christianity, after a 
few years they returned to their Greek countrymen.* 
With this dispersion of the philosophers, the national 
literature of Greece ended. 

* Their names were Diogenes, Hernias, Eulalius, Prisdanns, Damascios, 
and Simplicras ; at the same time Salustius, the Syrian cynic, and Isidorus, 
the Platonic professor of Alexandria, also retired to the Persian court, and 
returned with their friends. 

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The universities of the other cities of the empire 
were either intended for the education of the higher 
classes destined for the public administration, or for 
the church. That of Constantinople possessed a 
philosophical, philological, legal, and theological 
faculty. Alexandria added to these a celebrated 
medical school. Berytus was distinguished for its 
school of jurisprudence, and Edessa was remarkable 
for its Syriac, as well as its Greek faculties. The 
university of Antioch suffered a severe blow in the 
destruction of the city by Chosroes, but it again 
rose from its ruin. The Greek poetical literature 
of this age is utterly destitute of popular interest, 
and shews that it formed only the amusement of 
a class of society, not the portrait of a nation's 
feelings. Paul the Silentiary> and Agathias the 
historian, wrote many epigrams, which exist in the 
Anthology. The poem of Hero and Leander by 
Musaeus, is generally supposed to have been com- 
posed about the year 450, but it may be mentioned 
as one of the last Greek poems which displays a 
true Greek character ; and it is peculiarly valuable, 
as affording us a testimony of the late period to 
which the Hellenic people preserved their correct 
taste. The poems of Coluthus and Tryphiodorus, 
which are almost of the same period, are very far 
inferior in merit ; but as both were Egyptian 
Greeks, it is not surprising that their poetical 
productions display the frigid character of the 
artificial school. 

The prose literature of the sixth century can 
boast of some distinguished names. The commen- 
tary of Simplicius on the manual of Epictetus has 

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been frequently printed, and the work has even 
been translated into German. Simplicius was a 
pupil of Damascius, and one of the philosophers 
who, with that celebrated teacher, visited Persia on 
the dispersion of the Athenian schools. The 
collection of Stobaeus, even in the mutilated form 
in which we possess it, is not without interest ; the 
medical works of Actius and Alexander of Tralles 
have been printed several times, and the geogra- 
phical writings of Hierocles and Cosmas Indico- 
pleustes possess considerable interest. In history, 
the writings of Procopius and Agathias are of great 
merit, and have been translated into several modern 
languages. Many other names of authors, whose 
works have been preserved in part and in modern 
times, might be cited ; but it does not belong to our 
inquiry to enter more into details, which will be 
found in the history of Greek literature, nor does it 
fall within our province to signalize any of the legal 
and ecclesiastical writers of the age.* 



It is necessary here to advert to the effect 
which the existence of the established church, as a 
constituted body, and forming a part of the state, 
produced both on the government and on the people ; 

* Qetchichle der Griechischen LUeratur, a German translation, by J. 
Schwarge and Dr Pin der, of Schobll's Histoire de la LittercUure Greeque. 
Hie French original ia in 8 vols. 8vo. ; the German translation in 3 vols. 

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though it will only be to notice its connection with 
the Greeks as a nation. The political connection of 
the church with the state, displayed its evil effects, 
by the active part which the clergy took in excit- 
ing the numerous persecutions which distinguish this 
period. Indeed, the alliance of Justinian and the 
Roman government of his time with the orthodox 
church, was forced on the parties by their political 
position. Their interests in Africa, Italy, and Spain, 
identified the imperial party and the orthodox 
believers, and invited the use of arms as the arbiter 
of opinions. It became, or was thought necessary 
at times, even within the limits of the empire, to 
unite political and ecclesiastical power in the same 
hands ; and the union of the office of prefect and 
patriarch of Egypt, in the person of Apollinarius, is 
a memorable instance. To the combination, there- 
fore, of motives of Roman policy with feelings of 
orthodox bigotry, we must attribute the religious 
persecutions of the Arians, Nestorians, and Euty- 
chians, as well as of Platonic philosophers, Mani- 
chseans, Samaritans, Jews, and all other heretics. 
The various laws which Justinian enacted to enforce 
unity of opinion in religions, and to punish any 
difference of belief from that of the established 
church, occupy a considerable space in his legisla- 
tion ; yet, as if to shew the impossibility of fixing 
opinions with perfect certainty, it appeared at the 
end of his reign, that this most orthodox of Roman 
emperors, and munificent patron of the church, held 
that the body of Jesus was incorruptible, and 
adopted a heterodox interpretation of the Nicene 
creed, in denying the two natures of Christ. 

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The religious persecutions of Justinian tended, in 
a very great degree, to ripen the general feelings of 
dissatisfaction with the Roman government, which 
were universal in the provinces, into feelings of 
permanent hostility, in all those portions of the 
empire in which the heretics formed the majority of 
the population. The orthodox church, unfortu- 
nately, rather exceeded the common measure of 
bigotry and ecclesiastical violence in this age ; and 
it was too closely connected with the Greek nation, 
for the spirit of persecution not to acquire a 
national as well as a religious character. The 
established church was identified with the Greek 
clergy ; for as Greek was the language of the civil 
and ecclesiastical administration, the Greeks, or 
those acquainted with the Greek language, could 
alone attain the highest ecclesiastical preferments. 
The jealousy of the Greeks was sure to raise among 
the orthodox a suspicion of all their rivals, in order 
to exclude them for the envied promotion; and, 
consequently, the Syrians, Egyptians, and Arme- 
nians, found themselves placed in opposition to the 
Greeks, by their national language and literature. 

The Scriptures had, at a very early period, been 
translated into all the spoken languages of the 
East; and the Syrians, Egyptians, and Armenians, 
not only made use of their own language in the 
service of the church, but also possessed, at this 
time, a provincial clergy, in no ways inferior to the 
Greek provincial clergy in learning and piety, and, 
in ecclesiastical literature, fully equal to that por- 
tion of the Greek ecclesiastical literature which was 
accessible to the mass of the people. This use of 

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the national language gave the church of each 
province a national character ; the opposition 
which political circumstances created against the 
established church, gave it a heretical tinge; and 
a strong disposition to quarrel with the Greek 
church had always displayed itself among the 
natives of Egypt. Justinian carried his persecu- 
tions so far, that, in several provinces, the natives 
separated from the established church, and elected 
their own bishops, an act which, in the society of 
the time, was a near approach to open rebellion. 
Indeed, the hostility to the Roman government 
throughout the East, was every where connected 
with an opposition to the Greek clergy. The Jews 
revived an old saying, indicating a national, as well 
as political and religious animosity, — " Cursed is he 
who eateth swine's flesh, or teacheth his child 

Power, whether ecclesiastical or civil, is so liable 
to abuse, that it is not surprising that the Greeks, 
as soon as they had succeeded in transforming the 
established church of the Roman empire into the 
Greek church, should have acted unfairly to the 
provincial clergy of the eastern provinces of the 
empire, in which the Greek liturgy was not used ; 
nor is it surprising that the national differences 
should have soon been identified with opposite 
opinions in points of doctrine. As soon as any 
question arose, the Greek clergy, from their alliance 

* Yet, even among the Jews, there was a government party who wished 
to introduce the use of the Greek Scriptures in the synagogues, and a rea- 
sonable party, who wished the people to understand the Scriptures, as 
appears from the phrase, u Vel etiam patria forte — Italica hac dicimua 
— lingua," &c. Juttiniani, Nor. 146. Auth. Const. 125. 

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with the state, and their possession of the ecclesias- 
tical revenues of the church, were sure of being 
orthodox; and the provincial clergy were in con- 
stant danger of being regarded as heterodox, merely 
because they were not Greeks. There can be no 
doubt, that several of the national churches of the 
East owe some increase of their hostility to the Roman 
government to the circumstances adverted to, though 
the religious opinions of the Nestorians and Euty- 
chians found many sincere votaries in Syria, Egypt, 
and Armenia, independently of all national feelings. 
The sixth century gave strong proofs of the neces- 
sity that each country, which possessed a peculiar 
language and literature, should possess also its national 
church ; and the struggle of the Roman empire, and 
of the Greek ecclesiastical establishment, against 
this attempt at national independence on the part 
of the Armenians, Syrians, Egyptians, Africans, and 
Italians, involved the empire in many difficulties, 
and opened a way, first for the Persians to push their 
invasions into the heart of the empire, and after- 
wards for the Mohammedans to conquer the eastern 
provinces, and virtually to put an end to the Roman 

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The history of the Greeks, and that of the 
Roman empire, assume a new aspect during the 
period which elapsed between the deaths^of Justinian 
and of Heraclius. The mighty nation, which the 
union of the Macedonians and Greeks had formed 
in the greater part of the East, was rapidly declining, 
and in many provinces, hastening to extinction. 

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Even the Hellenic race in Europe, which had for 
many centuries displayed the appearance of a people 
closely united by feelings, language, and religion, 
now began to break up into tribes as numerous as 
there were cantons and cities in Greece, and these 
tribes ceased to hold communication with one 
another, as each supplied all the demands of its 
diminished wants. Hellenic civilization, and all the 
fruits of the policy of Alexander the Great, had at 
last succumbed to Roman oppression. The people 
of Hellas directed their exclusive attention to their 
own local and religious institutions, as they felt 
they had no benefits to expect from the imperial 
government ; and the emperor and the administration 
of the empire, now gave but little attention to any 
provincial business, not directly connected with the 
all-absorbing topic of the fiscal exigencies of the 

The inhabitants of the various provinces of the 
Roman empire were every where forming local and 
religious associations, independent of the general 
government, and striving to live with as rare recur- 
rence to the central administration at Constanti- 
nople as possible. National feelings daily exerted 
additional force in separating the subjects of the 
empire into communities, where language and reli- 
gious opinions operated with more power on society, 
than the political allegiance enforced by the em- 
peror. This separation of interests and feelings 
soon j)ut an end to every prospect of regenerating 
the empire, and even presented momentary views 
of new political, religious, and national combina- 
tions, by which the dissolution of the eastern empire 

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seemed on the very eve of being effectuated. The 
history of the West offered the counterpart of the 
fate which threatened the East ; and, according to 
all human calculations, Armenia, Syria, Egypt, 
Africa, and Hellas, were on the point of becoming 
independent states. But the inexorable aristocratic 
principle of Roman power possessed an inherent 
energy of existence very different from the republi- 
canism of Greece, or the monarchies of the Mace- 
donian empire. The Roman empire never relaxed 
its authority over its own subjects, nor did it ever 
cease to dispense to them an equal administration 
of justice, in every case in which its own fiscal 
demands were not directly concerned, and even 
then it authorized injustice by positive law. It 
never permitted its subjects to bear arms, unless 
those arms were received from the state, and directed 
by the emperor's officers ; and when the imperial 
forces were defeated by the Avars and the Per- 
sians, its pride was unconquered. The emperors 
displayed the same spirit when the enemy was 
encamped before Constantinople, as the senate had 
shewn, when Hannibal marched from the field of 
Cannae to the walls of Rome. 

Events which no human sagacity could foresee, 
against which no political wisdom could contend, 
and which the philosopher can only explain by 
attributing them to the dispensation of that Provi- 
dence who exhibits, in the history of the world, the 
progress of the education of the whole human 
species, at last put an end to the existence of the 
Roman empire in the East. Yet, the inhabitants of 

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the countries freed from the Roman yoke, instead of 
finding a freer range for the improvement of their 
individual and national advantages, felt that the 
appearance of Mohammed, and the victories of his 
followers, strengthened the power of despotism and 
bigotry ; and many of the nations which had been 
enslaved by the Macedonians, and oppressed by the 
Romans, were exterminated by the Saracens. 

The Roman emperors of the East appear to have 
fancied, that the strict administration of justice in 
civil and criminal affairs, superseded the necessity 
of careiully watching every detail of the ordinary 
proceedings of the government officers in the 
administrative department, forgetting that the legal 
establishment could only take cognizance of the 
exceptional cases, and that the well-being of the 
people depended on the daily conduct of their civil 
governors. It soon became apparent, that Justi- 
nian's reforms in the legislation of the empire had 
produced no improvement in the civil administra- 
tion. That body of the population of the capital, 
and of the empire, which arrogated to itself the 
title of Romans, turned the privileges conferred by 
their rank in the imperial service, into a means of 
living at the expense of the people. But the 
emperor and his counsellors began to perceive, that 
the central administration had lost some of its 
former control over the every day life of the people ; 
and Justin the Second seemed willing to make the 
concessions necessary to revive the feeling, that 
civil order, and security of property, flowed, as a 
natural result, from the mere existence of the 

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imperial government, — a feeling which had long 
powerfully supported the throne of the emperors.* 

The want of a fixed order of succession in the 
Roman empire, was an evil severely felt in all the 
provinces, and the enactment of precise rules for the 
hereditary transmission of the imperial dignity would 
have been a wise and useful addition to the lex 
regia, or constitution of the state.f This constitu- 
tion was supposed to have delegated the legislative 
power to the emperor; for the theory, that the 
Roman people was the legitimate source of all 
authority, still floated in public opinion. Justinian, 
however, was sufficiently versed both in the laws 
and constitutional forms of the empire, to dread 
any precise qualification of this vague, and perhaps 
imaginary law; though the interests of the empire im- 
periously required that measures should be adopted 
to prevent the throne from becoming an object 
of civil war. A successor is apt to be a rival, and 
a regency in the Roman empire would have revived 
the power of the senate, and probably converted 
the government into an oligarchical aristocracy. 
Justinian, as he was childless, naturally felt unwilling 
to circumscribe his own power by any positive law, 
lest he should create a claim, which the authority 

* The Novell, cxlix. is ascribed to Justin. It is altogether a curious 
document for the illustration of the history of his reign. The following 
passage is worthy of attention. " Hortamur cujusque provinciee sanctissimos 
episcopos, eos etiam qui inter possessores et incolas principatum tenent, ut 
per communem supplicationem ad potentiam nostram eos deferant, quos ad 
adminUtrationem provinciee earn idoneos existiment." Ed. Jutt, iv. 

f " Sed et, quod principi placuit, legis habet vigorem : cum lex regia quae 
de ejus imperio lata est, populus ei, et in eum, omne imperium suum et 
potestatem concedak" Just. Inst. i. 2. 6. This supposed Ux regia, was 
therefore equivalent to an act of parliament, vesting the legislative power in 
the crown. 

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of the senate and people of Constantinople might 
have found the means of enforcing, and thus a legal 
control over the arbitrary exercise of the imperial 
power would have been established. A doubtful 
succession w r as also an event viewed with satisfaction 
by most of the leading men in the senate, the 
palace, and the army, as they might expect to 
advance their private fortunes, during the period of 
intrigue and uncertainty inseparable from such a 
contingency. The partizans of a fixed succession 
would only be found among the lawyers of the 
capital, the clergy, and the civil and financial 
administrators in the provinces ; for the Roman 
citizens and nobility, forming a privileged class, 
were generally averse from such a project, as tending 
to diminish their importance. The abolition of the 
ceremony attending the sanction of the emperor's 
election by the senate and the people, would have 
been viewed as an arbitrary change in the constitu- 
tion, and as an attempt to rob the inhabitants of 
the eastern empire of the boast, " that they lived 
under a legal monarch, and not under a hereditary 
despot like the Persians," — a boast which they still 
uttered with pride. 

The death of Justinian had so long threatened the 
empire with civil war, that all parties were anxious 
to avert the catastrophe; and Justin, one of his 
nephews, who held the office of master of the 
palace, w r as peaceably installed as his uncle's suc- 
cessor. The energy of his personal character enabled 
him to turn to his advantage the traces of ancient 
forms that still survived in the Roman state ; and 
the momentary political importance thus given to 

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these forms, serves to explain to us, that the Roman 
government was even then very far from a pure 
despotism. The phrase, " the senate, and the Roman 
people," still exerted so much influence over public 
opinion, that Justin considered a public ratification 
of his title as not unimportant. The senate was 
instructed by his partizans, to solicit him to accept 
the imperial dignity, though he had already secured 
both the troops and the treasury; and the people were 
assembled in the hippodrome, in order to enable 
the new emperor to deliver an oration, in which 
he assured them, that their happiness, and not his 
own repose, should always be the chief object of his 
government * The character of Justin the Second 
was honourable, but it is said to have been capri- 
cious ; he was, however, neither destitute of personal 
abilities, nor great energy .f Disease, and temporary 
fits of insanity, compelled him at last to resign the 
direction of public business to others, and in this 
critical conjuncture, his choice displayed both 
judgment and patriotism. He passed over his own 
brothers and his son-in-law, in order to select the 
man who appeared alone capable of re-establishing 
the fortunes of the Roman empire by his talents. 
This man was Tiberius the Second. 

The commencement of Justin's reign was marked 
by vigour, perhaps even by rashness. He considered 
the annual subsidies paid by Justinian to the Persians 
and the Avars in the light of a disgraceful tribute, 
and, as he refused to make any farther payments, he 
was soon involved in war with both these powerful 

* Corippus, De laud. Juttini minoris, 1. ii. v. 337. 
t Theophanis Chron. p. 208. 

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enemies at the same time. Yet, so inconsistent was 
the Roman administration, that the Lombards, by 
no means a powerful or numerous people, were 
allowed to conquer the greater part of Italy almost 
unopposed. As this conquest was the first military 
transaction that occurred during his reign, and as 
the Lombards occupy an important place in the 
history of European civilization, the loss of Italy has 
been usually selected as a convincing proof of the 
weakness and incapacity of Justin. 

The country occupied by the Lombards on the 
Danube, w T as exhausted by their oppressive rule ; and 
they found great difficulty in maintaining their 
position, in consequence of the neighbourhood of 
the Avars, the growing strength of the Sclavonians, 
and the perpetual hostility of the Gepids. The 
diminished population, and increasing poverty of the 
surrounding countries, no longer supplied the means 
of supporting a numerous body of warriors in that 
contempt for every useful occupation, which was 
essential to the preservation of the national supe- 
riority of the Gothic race. The Sclavonic neigh- 
bours and subjects of the Gothic tribes, were 
gradually becoming as well armed as their masters ; 
and as many of those neighbours combined the 
pursuits of agriculture with their pastoral and 
predatory habits, they were slowly rising to a national 
superiority. Pressed by these circumstances, Alboin, 
king of the Lombards, resolved to emigrate, and to 
attempt to effect a settlement in Italy, the richest 
and most populous country in his neighbourhood. 
To secure himself during the expedition, he proposed 
to the Avars to unite their forces and destroy the 

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kingdom of the Gepids, agreeing to abandon all 
claims to the conquered country, and to remain 
satisfied with half the moveable spoil. 

This singular alliance wus successful : the united 
forces of the Lombards and Avars overpowered the 
Gepids, and destroyed their kingdom in Panonia> 
which had existed for one hundred and fifty years. 
The Lombards immediately commenced their emigra- 
tion. The Heruls had already quitted this desolated 
country, and thus the last remains of the Gothic race, 
which had lingered on the confines of the eastern 
empire, abandoned their possessions to the Hunnic 
tribes which they had long successfully opposed, and 
to the Sclavonians whom they had for ages ruled. 

The historians of this period, on the authority of 
Paul the Deacon, a Lombard chronicler, have 
asserted, that Narses invited the Lombards into 
Italy, in order to avenge an insulting message with 
which the Empress Sophia had accompanied an 
order of her husband Justin, for the recall of the 
aged eunuch to Constantinople.* The court was 
dissatisfied with the expense of Narses in the admi- 
nistration of Italy, and required, that the province 
should remit a larger sum to the imperial treasury 
than it had hitherto done. The Italians, on the 
other hand, complained of the military severity and 
fiscal oppression of his government. The last acts 
of the life of Narses are, however, quite incompatible 
with treasonable designs ; and probably, the know- 
ledge which the Emperor Justin and his cabinet 
must have possessed of the impossibility of deriving 

• Paulus Diaconus, De gestis Lantfobardorttm, in. 5. 

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any surplus revenue from the agricultural districts 
of Italy, offers the simplest explanation of the 
indifference manifested at Constantinople to the 
Lombard invasion. It would be apparently nearer 
the truth to affirm, that the Lombards entered Italy 
with the tacit sanction of the empire, than that 
Narses acted as a traitor. 

As soon as Narses received the order of recall, he 
proceeded to Naples, on his way to Constantinople ; 
but the advance of the Lombards alarmed the 
Italians to such a degree, that they despatched a 
deputation to beg him to resume the government. 
The Bishop of Rome repaired to Naples, to persuade 
Narses of the sincere repentance of the provincials, 
who now perceived the danger of losing a ruler of 
talent at such a crisis. No suspicion, therefore, 
could have then prevailed amongst the Italians of 
any communications between Narses and the Lom- 
bards, nor could they have suspected, that an 
experienced courtier, a wise statesman, and an able 
general, would, in his extreme old age, allow revenge 
to get the better of his reason, else they would have 
trembled at his return to power, and dreaded his 
vengeance, instead of confiding in his talents. And 
even in examining history at this distance of time, 
we ought certainly to weigh the conduct and 
character of a long public life, against the dramatic 
tale of an empress sending to a viceroy a grossly 
insulting message, and the improbability that the 
viceroy should publicly proclaim his thirst for 
revenge. The story, that the Empress Sophia 
sent a distaff and spindle to the ablest soldier in 
the empire, and that the veteran, should have 

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declared in his passion, that he would spin her 
a thread which she should not easily unravel, 
seems a fable, which bears a character of fancy and 
of simplicity of ideas, marking its origin in a ruder 
state of society than that which reigned at the court 
of Justin the Second. A Gothic or Lombard origin 
of the fable, is farther supported by the fact, that it 
must have produced no ordinary sensation among 
the Germanic nations, to see a eunuch invested with 
the highest commands in the army and the state, 
and the sensation could not fail to give rise to 
numerous idle tales. The story of Narses's treason, 
may have arisen at the time of his death ; but it is 
remarkable, that no Greek author makes any men- 
tion of it before Constantine Porphyrogenitus, in the 
tenth century ; and what is still more extraordinary, 
and countenancing, in some degree, the inference of 
at least tacit consent on the part of the Roman 
emperor, is the fact, that no earlier notice of the 
conquest of Italy, by the Lombards, occurs in any 
Greek writer.* Narses really accepted the invita- 
tion of the Italians to return to Rome, where he 
commenced the necessary preparations for resisting 
the Lombards, but his death occurred before their 
arrival in Italy. 

The historians of Justin's reign are full of com- 
plaints of the abuses which had infected the admini- 
stration of justice, yet the facts which they record 

• A. D. 949. Constantini Porph. De adm. imperio. 17. The emperor's 
extreme want of exactness in his account of this event, proves that he had no 
authentic document to copy. It confounds chronology and persons ; mentions 
au Empress Irene, and a Patriarch Zacharias the Athenian, as cotemporaries 
of Narses, and never names the Emperor Justin. See Banduri's noU, vol. 
iii. p. 331. ed Bonn. 

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tend distinctly to exculpate the emperor from any ' 
fault, and prove incontestably, that the corruption 
had its seat in the vices of the whole system of the 
civil government of the empire. The most remark- 
able anecdote selected to illustrate the corruption of 
the judicial department, indicates that the real cause 
of the disorder lay in the increasing power of the 
official aristocracy connected with the civil adminis- 
tration. A man of rank, on being cited before the 
prefect of the city for an act of injustice, ridiculed 
the summons, and excused himself from appearing 
to answer it, as he was engaged to attend an enter- 
tainment given by the emperor.* In consideration 
of this circumstance, the prefect did not venture to 
arrest him; but he proceeded immediately to the 
palace, entered the state apartments, and addressing 
Justin, declared, that, as a judge, he was ready to 
execute every law for the strict administration of 
justice, but since the emperor honoured criminals, 
by admitting them to the imperial table where his 
authority was of no avail, he begged to be allowed 
to resign his office. Justin, without hesitation, 
asserted, that he would never defend any act of 
injustice, and that even should he himself be the 
person accused, he would submit to be punished. 
The prefect, thus authorized, seized the accused, and 
carried him to his court for trial. The emperor 
applauded the conduct of his judge ; but this act of 
energy is said to have so completely astonished the 
inhabitants of Constantinople, that, for thirty days, 
no accusation was brought before the prefect. This 

• fjimytrr^t nt. CeDKENUS, yoI. i. 389. r£t trjrtyMrif»i> rvyxXnrtx** ir«. 
Zonaras, ii. 71. Manassis Ckron. p. 69. 

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effect of the impartial administration of justice on 
the people seems strange, if the historians of the 
period are correct in their complaints of the general 
injustice. The anecdote is, however, valuable, as it 
reveals the real cause of the duration of the eastern 
empire, and shews, that the crumbling political 
edifice was sustained by the judicial administration. 
Justin also paid every attention to relieve his sub- 
jects from the burden which the arrears of the public 
taxes were always causing to the people, without 
enriching the treasury.* 

If Justin engaged rashly in a quarrel with Persia, 
he certainly omitted no means of strengthening 
himself during the contest. He formed alliances 
with the Turks of central Asia, and with the 
Ethiopians, who occupied a part of Arabia ; but, in 
spite of his allies, the arms of the empire were 
unsuccessful in the East. A long series of predatory 
excursions were carried on by the Romans and the 
Persians, and many provinces of both empires were 
reduced to a state of desolation by this barbarous 
species of warfare. Chosroes succeeded in capturing 
Dara, the bulwark of Mesopotamia^ and in ravaging 
Syria in the most terrible manner ; half a million 
of the inhabitants of this flourishing province were 
carried away as slaves into Persia. In the mean- 
time, the Avars consolidated their empire on the 
Danube, by compelling the Huns, Bulgarians, Scla- 
vonians, and the remains of the Goths, to submit to 
their authority. Justin vainly attempted to arrest 

* See Novell, cxlviii. and cxlix. both ascribed to Justin. Also Novell. 
clxi. of Tiberius, who says, "ab avaritia eorum, qui magistrates emunt 
magis, quam accipiunt." 

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their career, by encouraging the Franks of Austrasia 
to attack them. The Avars possessed force suffi- 
cient to continue their war with the empire, and 
defeated the Roman army under Tiberius, the future 

The misfortunes which assailed the empire on 
every side, and the increasing difficulties of the 
internal administration, demanded exertions, of which 
the health of Justin rendered him incapable. 
Tiberius seemed the only man competent to guide 
the vessel of the state through the storm, and Justin 
had the magnanimity to name him as successor, 
with the dignity of Caesar, and the sense to commit 
to him the entire control over all the public admi- 
nistration. The conduct of the Caesar soon changed 
the fortune of war in the East, though the European 
provinces were still abandoned to the ravages of the 
Sclavonians.* Chosroes was defeated at Melitene, 
though he commanded his army in person, and the 
Romans, pursuing their success, penetrated into 
Babylonia, and plundered all the provinces of Persia 
to the very shores of the Caspian Sea. 

It is surprising that we find no mention of the 
Greek people, nor of Greece itself, in the memorials 
of the reign of Justin. It is in vain to speculate on 
the cause ; but it is evident, that some important 
reason existed for the neglect with which Greece 
began to be treated by the Constantinopolitan 
government. Justinian had plundered Greece of as 
large a portion of her revenues as he could ; Justin 
and his successors utterly neglected her defence 

* Menander, p. 124. 164. od. Paris, 327. 404. ed. Bonn, 

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against the Sclavonian incursions, yet it appears 
that the Greeks contrived still to retain so much of 
their ancient spirit of independence, as to awaken a 
feeling of jealousy amongst that more aristocratic 
portion of their nation, which assumed the Roman 
name. That the imperial government overlooked 
no trace of nationality among any section of its 
subjects, is evident from a law which Justin passed 
to enforce the conversion of the Samaritans to 
Christianity, and which apparently was successful in 
exterminating that people, as, though they previously 
occupied almost as important a place in the history 
of the eastern empire as the Jews, they cease to be 
mentioned from the time of Justin's law.* 



The reigns of Tiberius and Maurice present the 
remarkable spectacle of two princes, of no ordinary 
talents, devoting all their energies to improve the 
condition of their country, without being able to 
arrest its decline, though that decline evidently 
proceeded from internal causes. The great evil of 
the Roman empire arose from the government's 
being in discord with every class of its subjects. 
A powerful army still existed, the administration 
was perfectly arranged, the finances were not in a 
state of disorder, and every exertion was made to 

• A. D. 572. Notdl, cxliv. 

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enforce the strictest administration of justice; yet, 
in spite of the existence of so many elements of 
good government, the government was bad, un- 
popular, and oppressive. No feeling of patriotism 
existed in any class ; no bond of union united the 
monarch and his subjects ; and no ties of common 
interest rendered their public conduct amenable to 
the same laws. No fundamental institution of a 
national character, enforced the duties of the citizen 
by the bonds of morality and religion ; and thus the 
emperors could only apply administrative reforms as 
a cure for an universal political palsy. Great hopes 
of improvement were, however, entertained when 
Tiberius mounted the throne ; for his prudence, 
justice, and talents, were the theme of general 
admiration. He opposed the enemies of the empire 
with vigour, but, as he saw that the internal ills of 
the state were infinitely more dangerous than the 
Persians and the Avars, he made peace the great 
object of his exertions, in order that he might 
devote his exclusive attention, and the whole power 
of the empire, to the reform of the civil and 
military administration. But he solicited peace 
from Hormisdas, the son of Chosroes, in vain. 
When he found all reasonable terms of accom- 
modation rejected by the Persian, he attempted, 
by a desperate effort, to terminate the war. The 
whole disposable military force of the empire was 
collected in Asia Minor, and an army of one 
hundred and fifty thousand men was, by this means, 
assembled. The Avars were allowed to seize 
Sirmium, and the emperor consented to conclude 
with them an inglorious and disadvantageous peace, 

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so important did it appear to him to secure success 
to his arms in the struggle with Persia. The war 
commenced with some success, but the death of 
Tiberius interrupted all his plans. He died after a 
short reign of four years, with the reputation of 
being the best sovereign who had ever ruled the 
eastern empire, and he bequeathed to his son-in-law 
Maurice, the difficult task of carrying into execution 
his extensive schemes of reform. 

Maurice was personally acquainted with every 
branch of the public administration — he possessed all 
the qualities of an excellent minister — he was a 
humane and honourable man, — but he wanted the 
great sagacity necessary to rule the Roman empire 
in the difficult times in which he reigned. His 
private character merited all the eulogies of the 
Greek historians, for he was a good man and a true 
Christian. When the people of Constantinople and 
their bigoted patriarch determined to burn an 
unfortunate individual as a magician, he made every 
effort, though in vain, to save the persecuted man.* 
He gave a feeling proof of the sincerity of his faith 
after his dethronement; for when the child of 
another was offered to the executioners instead of 
his own, he himself revealed the error, lest an 
innocent person should perish by his act. He was 
orthodox in his religion, and economical in his 
expenditure, virtues which his subjects were welL 
qualified to appreciate, and much inclined to admire. 
The one ought to have endeared him to the people, 
and the other to the clergy ; but unfortunately, his 
want of success in war was connected with his 


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parsimony, and his humanity was regarded as less 
orthodox than Christian. The impression of his 
virtues was thus neutralized, and he could never 
secure to his government the great political advan- 
tages which he might have derived from popularity. 
As soon as his reign proved unfortunate, he was 
called a miser and a Marcionite.* 

By supporting the Bishop of Constantinople in 
his assumption of the title of oecumenical patriarch, 
Maurice excited the violent animosity of Pope 
Gregory the First ; and the great reputation of that 
sagacious pontiff has induced western historians to 
examine all the actions of the eastern emperor 
through a veil of ecclesiastical prejudice. Gregory, 
in his letters, accuses Maurice of supporting the 
venality of the public administration, and even of 
selling the high office of exarch. These accusations 
are doubtless correct enough when applied to the 
system of the Byzantine court ; but no prince seems 
to have felt more deeply than Maurice the evil 
effects of that system, or made sincerer efforts to 
reform it. That personal avarice was not the c^use 
of the financial errors of his administration, is 
attested by numerous instances of his liberality 
recorded in history, and from the fact, that even 
during his turbulent reign, he was intent on reducing 
the public burdens of his subjects, and actually 
succeeded in his plans to a considerable extent.f 

* The Marcionites held, that an intermediate deity of a mixed nature 
neither perfectly good nor perfectly evil, is the creator of this world. 
Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History. 

t Theopbylactus Simocatta says, that Maurice reduced the taxes one-third, 
but the assertion is too general to induce us to admit that so important a 
change could remain unnoticed by every other authority. The pbraee almost 

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The flatteries heaped by Gregory the Great on the 
worthless tyrant Phocas, shew clearly enough that 
policy, not justice, regulated the measure of the 
pope's praise and censure. 

Maurice had been selected by Tiberius as the 
confidential agent in his projects for the reform of 
the army ; and much of his misfortune originated in 
his attempting to carry into execution, plans which 
required the calm judgment, and the elevation of 
character of their author, in order to create, 
throughout the empire, the feeling, that their 
adoption was necessary for the salvation of the 
Roman power. The enormous expense of the 
army, and the independent existence, unaffected by 
any national feeling, which it maintained, now com- 
promised the safety of the government, as much 
as it had done before the reforms of Constantine. 
Tiberius had begun cautiously to lay the foundation 
of a new system, by adding to his household troops a 
corps of fifteen thousand heathen slaves, whom he 
purchased and disciplined * He placed this little 
army under the immediate command of Maurice, 
who had already displayed an attachment to military 
reforms, by attempting to restore the ancient mode 

warrants the inference that a remission of arrears was the concession 
accorded by the emperor, but only a Byzantine panegyrist could ascribe any 
great merit to the remission of one-third of a bad debt. 'Avec$i{tr*i 3< xtu 
rtiv r^irm f^i^ett rait <po{*t fvyx^{nteti rtTf urnxiots rit fianki* Mmv^ixiat. lib. 
viii. 13. 

• Theophams Chron. 213. The words of Theophanes shew, that this 
corps perfectly resembled the Janissaries in their earliest organization, and 
adds another to the many examples already noticed, of the powerful 
influence exercised on the policy of the rulers of Constantinople by the 
singular position of that city, both politically and geographically. 'O ft 
fc*ri\ivt TiG'iptf *y«{a<rmf iSv/**v, xmrifmn fr^tirtVfdM til cu/um JXo» 

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of encamping Roman armies. This taste for 
improvements appears to have created a feeling of 
dissatisfaction in the army, and there seems every 
reason to ascribe the unsuccessful operations of 
Maurice on the Iberian frontier in the year 580, to 
a feeling of discontent among the soldiers.* That he 
was a military pedant, may be inferred from the fact 
that he found time to write a work on military 
tactics, without succeeding in acquiring a great 
military reputation ; and it is certain that he was 
suspected by the soldiers of being an enemy to the 
privileges and pretensions of the army, and that by 
them all his actions were scanned with a jealous 
eye.f During the Persian war, also, he rashly 
attempted to diminish the pay and rations of the 
troops, and this ill-timed measure caused a sedition, 
which was suppressed with the greatest difficulty, 
but which left feelings of ill will in the minds of 
the emperor and the army, and laid the foundation 
of the ruin of both4 

Fortune, however, proved eminently favourable 
to Maurice in his contest with Persia, and he 
obtained that peace, which neither the prudence 
nor the military exertions of Tiberius had succeeded 
in concluding. A civil war rendered Chosroes, the 
son of Hormisdas, an exile, and compelled him to 
solicit the protection of the Romans. Maurice 
received him with humanity, and, acting according 

* Theophtlacti Sim. Hist, iii. 1. Mekandri Fr. p. 435, ed Bonn. 

+ The only edition yet published of this work of the Emperor Maurice, 
appears to be the one mentioned by Gibbon, (viii. 205.) Arriani Taetka 
cum Mauricii Artis M'xlitaru, lib. xii. primus edid. ten. lot. notisgue Ulustr K 
J. Scheffer, Upsal, 1664. 8ro. 

% A. D. 588. 

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to the dictates of a just and generous policy, aided 
him to recover his paternal throne. When rein- 
stated on the throne of Persia, Chosroes concluded 
a peace with the Roman empire, which promised to 
prove lasting ; for Maurice wisely sought to secure 
its stability, by demanding no concession injurious to 
the honour or political interests of Persia. Dara 
and Nisibis were restored to the Romans, and a 
strong and defensible frontier formed by the cession, 
on the part of Chosroes, of a portion of Pers- 



As soon as Maurice had established tranquillity 
in the Asiatic provinces of the empire, he directed 
his whole force against the Avars, in order to restrain 
the ravages which they were annually committing 
in all the country between the Danube and the 
coast of Thrace. The Avar kingdom now embraced 
all that portion of Europe which extends from the 
Carniari Alps to the Black Sea; and the Huns, 
Sclavonians, and Bulgarians, who had previously 
lived under independent governments, were now 
either united with their conquerors, or submitted, if 
not as subjects, at least as vassals, to own the supe- 
riority of the Avar monarch. After the conclusion 
of peace with Persia, the sovereign of the Avars 
was the only dangerous enemy to the Roman power 
then in existence ; but the Avars, in spite of their 

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rapid and extensive conquests, were unable to 
assemble an army capable of encountering the 
regular forces of the empire in the open field. 
Maurice, confident in the superiority of Roman 
discipline, resolved to conduct a campaign against 
the barbarians in person ; and there appeared no 
doubt of its proving successful. His conduct, on this 
important occasion, is marked by the most singular 
vacillation of purpose. He quitted Constantinople 
apparently with the firmest determination to place 
himself at the head of the army, yet, when a depu- 
tation from the court and senate followed him, and 
entreated that he would take care of his sacred 
person, he made this solicitation a pretext for a 
change of resolution, and returned back to his 
capital. His courage was very naturally called in 
question, and both his friends and enemies attribute 
his alarm to sinister omens. It seems, however, not 
improbable, that his firmness was really shaken by 
more alarming proofs of his unpopularity, and by 
the conviction that he would have to encounter far 
greater difficulties than he had previously expected, 
in enforcing his projects of reform among the troops. 
As very often happens to weak and obstinate men, 
he became distrustful of the success of his measures 
for re-establishing discipline in the Roman armies 
when he had committed himself to attempt their 
execution ; and he shrank from attempting to per- 
form the task in person, though he must have 
doubted whether an undertaking requiring so rare 
a combination of military skill and political sagacity, 
coidd ever succeed, unless conducted under the eye 
of its author, and supported by the personal influence 

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and prompt authority of the emperor. His conduct 
excited the contempt of the soldiers ; and whether 
he trembled at omens, or shrank from responsibility, 
he was laughed at in the army for his timidity : so 
that even had nothing occurred to awaken the 
suspicion or rouse the hatred of the troops employed 
against the Avars, their scorn for their sovereign 
would have brought them to the very verge of 

Though the Roman army gained several battles, 
and displayed considerable military skill, and much 
of the ancient military superiority in the cam- 
paigns against the Avars, still the inhabitants of 
Mcesia, Illyria, Dardania, Thrace, and Macedonia, 
were exposed to annual incursions of the hostile 
hordes, who crossed the Danube to plunder the pro- 
perty of the proprietors and cultivators of the soil, so 
that, at last, whole provinces were left uncultivated, 
and remained almost entirely depopulated. The 
imperial armies were generally ill commanded, for 
the generals were usually selected, either from among 
the relations of the emperor, or from among the 
court aristocracy. The spirit of opposition which 
had arisen between the camp and the court, made 
it unsafe to intrust the chief command of large bodies 
of troops to soldiers of fortune, and the most expe- 
rienced of the Roman officers, who had been bred to 
the profession of arms, were only employed in 
secondary posts.* 

* The court generals of the time were Maurice himself, his brother Peter, 
his son-in-law Philippicus, Heraclius, the father of the emperor of that name, 
Comentiolus, and probably Priscus, who appears to be the same person as 
Crispus. See Gibbon, viii. 216, note f. The professional soldiers, who 
attained high commands, were Droctulf, a Sueve, Apsich, a Hun, and llifred, 
whose name proves his Gothic or Germanic origin. 

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Priscus, who was one of the ablest and most 
influential of the Roman generals, carried on the 
war with some success, and invaded the country of 
the Avars and Sclavonians ; but his successes appear 
to have excited the jealousy of the emperor, who, 
fearing his own army more than the forces of his 
enemies, removed Priscus from the command, in 
order to intrust it to his own brother. The first 
duty of the new general was to remodel the 
organization of the army, to prepare for the recep- 
tion of the emperor's ulterior measures of reform. 
The commencement of a campaign was most unwisely 
selected as the time for carrying this plan into 
execution, and a new sedition among the soldiery 
was the consequence. The troops being now engaged 
in continual disputes with the emperor and the civil 
administration, began to select from among their 
officers, the leaders whom they considered most 
attached to their own views, and these leaders began 
to negotiate with the government, and consequently, 
to undermine the existing discipline. The mutinous 
army was soon defeated by the Avars, and Maurice 
was constrained to conclude a treaty of peace.* The 
provisions of this treaty were the immediate cause 
of the ruin of Maurice. They had taken prisoners 
about twelve thousand of the Roman soldiers, and 
offered to ransom their captives for twelve thou- 
sand pieces of gold. It is even said, that when 
Maurice refused to pay this sum, they reduced their 
demand, and asked only four pieces of silver for each 
captive ; but the emperor, though he consented to 
add twenty thousand pieces of gold to the former 

• A. D. 600. 

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subsidy, refused to pay any thing in order to ransom 
the Roman prisoners.* 

By this treaty, the Danube was declared the 
frontier of the empire, and the Roman officers were 
allowed to cross the river, in order to punish any 
ravages which the Sclavonians might commit within 
the Roman territory — a fact which seems to indicate 
the declining power of the Avar monarch, and the 
virtual independence of the Sclavonic tribes, to 
whom this provision applied. It may be inferred, 
also, from these terms, that Maurice could easily 
have delivered the captive Roman soldiers, had he 
wished to do so ; and it is natural to conclude, that 
he left them in captivity to punish them for their 
mutinous behaviour, and neglect of discipline, to 
which he attributed both their captivity, and the 
misfortunes of the empire. It was commonly re- 
ported, however, at the time, that the emperor's 
avarice induced him to refuse to ransom the soldiers, 
though it is impossible to suppose, that Maurice 
would have committed an act of inhumanity, for the 
paltry saving which thereby accrued to the imperial 
treasury. The Avars, with singular, and probably 
unexpected barbarity, put all their prisoners to death. 
Maurice, certainly, never contemplated the possibility 
of their acting with such cruelty, or he would have 
felt all the impolicy of his conduct, even if it be 
supposed that passion had, for a time, extinguished 

* The four pieces of silver, were in value about one shilling and sixpence. 
The silver piece, called the ttt^urtn, was equal to twelve folles. The follis 
was half an ounce of copper. The milliarensis was a silver coin of the value 
of twenty-four folles. 

2 A 

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the usual humanity of his disposition.* The murder 
of these soldiers was universally considered to have 
been caused by the avarice of the emperor ; and the 
aversion which the army had long entertained to his 
government, was changed into a deep rooted hatred 
of his person; while the people participated in the 
feeling, from a natural dislike to an economical and 
unsuccessful reformer. 

The peace with the Avars was of short duration. 
Priscus was again intrusted with the command of 
the army, and again restored the honour of the 
Roman arms. lie carried hostilities beyond the 
Danube; and affairs w r ere proceeding prosperously, 
when Maurice, with that perseverance in an un- 
popular course, which weak princes generally con- 
sider a proof of strength of character, renewed his 
attempts to enforce all his schemes for restoring the 
severest system of discipline. His brother was 
despatched to the army as commander-in-chief, with 
orders to place the troops in winter quarters, in the 
enemy's country, and compel them to forage for 
their subsistence. A sedition was the consequence : 
and the soldiers, now supplied with leaders, soon 
broke out into rebellion, threw off their allegiance 
to Maurice, and raised Phocas, one of the officers 
who had risen to distinction in the previous sedi- 
tions, to the chief command. Phocas led the army 
directly to Constantinople, where, having found 
a powerful party dissatisfied with Maurice, he 
lost no time in securing the throne. The injudicious 
system of reform pursued by Maurice had rendered 

• Titeophylacti Sim. Uist. vii. 15. Thf.opiunis Ch. 235, compared 
with the notice in the Chronieon Pa$cha!e> p. 379, A. D. 602. 

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him not only unpopular among the people, whose bur- 
dens he wished to alleviate, but disliked by the army, 
whose abuses he had resolved to eradicate. Yet, the 
emperor's confidence in the rectitude of his inten- 
tions, supported his character in the most desperate 
circumstances ; and when abandoned by all his sub- 
jects, and convinced by a succession of misfortunes, 
that the termination both of his reign and his life 
was approaching, he shewed no signs of cowardice. 
As his plan of reform had been directed to the 
increase of his own power, as the centre of the whole 
administration, and as he had shewn too clearly to 
all men, that his increased authority, when attained, 
was to be directed against more than one section of 
the government agents, he lost all influence from 
the moment he was unable to direct his cabinet in 
person ; and when he found it necessary to abandon 
Constantinople, he was deserted by every follower. 
The agents of Phocas soon captured Maurice and 
all his family, and the new emperor ordered them to 
be immediately executed. The conduct of Maurice 
at his death, affords proof that his private virtues 
could not be too highly eulogized. He died with 
fortitude and resignation, after witnessing the execu- 
tion of his children ; and when an attempt, which has 
been already alluded to, was made to substitute the 
infant of a nurse, instead of his youngest child, he 
himself revealed the deceit, in order to prevent the 
death of an innocent person. 

The sedition which put an end to the reign of 
Maurice, though it originated in the camp, became, 
as the army advanced towards the capital, a popular, 
as well as a military movement. Many causes had 

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long threatened a conflict between official power and 
popular feeling. The people generally hated the 
oppressive administration of the Roman empire, while 
the discordant elements of society in the East had 
latterly been gaining strength. The central govern- 
ment had found great difficulty in repressing 
religious disputes and ecclesiastical party feuds. The 
factions of the amphitheatre, and the national hatred 
of various classes in the empire, frequently broke 
out into acts of violence, which caused bloodshed. 
Monks, charioteers, and usurers, could all raise 
themselves above the law ; and the interests of 
particular bodies of men proved often more powerful 
to produce disorder and disorganization, than the 
provincial and local government to enforce tran- 
quillity. The administrative institutions were every 
where too weak to replace the declining strength of 
the central authority. A persuasion of the absolute 
necessity of re-invigorating the Roman government 
had gone abroad; but the power of a rapacious 
aristocracy, and the corruption of an idle populace 
in the capital, fed by the state, presented insuperable 
obstacles to the tranquil adoption of any reasonable 
plan of political reformation. The provincials were 
too poor and ignorant to originate any scheme of 
amelioration, and the task, it was dangerous even for 
an emperor to attempt, as no national institutions 
enabled the sovereign to unite any powerful body of 
his subjects in a systematic opposition to the venality 
of the aristocracy, the corruption of the capital, and 
the license of the army. Those national feelings 
which began to acquire force in some provinces, 
and in a few municipalities, where the attacks of 

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Justinian had proved ineffectual, tended more to 
awaken a desire for independence, than a wish to 
support the emperor, or a hope of improvement in 
the Roman administration. 

The arbitrary and illegal conduct of the imperial 
officers, while it rendered sedition venial, very often 
insured its partial success, and complete impunity.* 
The measures of reform proposed by Maurice, appear 
to have been directed, like the reforms of most 
absolute monarchs, rather to increase his own autho- 
rity, than to establish a system of administration so 
firmly established on a legal basis, as to prove 
even more powerful than the despotic will of the 
emperor himself. To confine the absolute power 
of the emperor to the executive administration, to 
make the law supreme, and to vest the legislative 
authority in some responsible body or senate, were 
not projects suitable to the age of Maurice, and 
perhaps hardly possible in the social state of society. 
Maurice resolved, that his first step in the career of 
improvement should be, to render the army, long a 
licentious and turbulent check on the imperial 
power, a well disciplined and efficient instrument of 
his will ; and he hoped, in this manner, to repress the 
tyranny of the official aristocracy, restrain the license 
of the military chiefs, prevent the sects ofNestorians 
and Eutychians from forming separate states, and 
to render the authority of the central government 
supreme, in all the distant provinces and isolated 
cities of the empire. In his struggle to obtain this 
result, he was compelled to make use of the existing 

• The sedition of Asiraus. Theophylacti Sim. IJ'ut, vii. 3. 

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administration ; and consequently, he appeal's in the 
history of the empire as the supporter and protector 
of a detested aristocracy, equally unpopular with the 
army and the people, while his ulterior plans for the 
improvement of the civil condition of his subjects 
were never made known, and perhaps never clearly 
framed even by himself, though it is evident, 
that many of them ought to have preceded his 
military changes. This view of the political position 
of Maurice, as it could not escape the observation 
of his contemporaries, is alluded to in " the quaint 
expression of Evagrius," that Maurice expelled from 
his mind the democracy of the passions, and 
established the aristocracy of reason, though the 
ecclesiastical historian, a cautious courtier, either 
could not or would not express himself with a more 
general application, or in a clearer manner.* 



Though Phocas ascended the throne in virtue of 
his position as leader of the rebellious army, he was 
universally regarded as the representative of the 
popular hostility to the existing order of administra- 
tion, to the ruling aristocracy, and to the Greek 
party in the eastern church. A great portion of the 
Roman world expected improvement as a conse- 
quence of any change, but that produced by the 
election of Phocas to the Roman purple, was 

* Gibbon's Decline and Fait, viii. 143. note. 

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followed by a series of misfortunes almost unparalleled 
in the history of revolutions. The ties which con- 
nected the social and political institutions of the 
eastern empire, were severed, and the circumstances 
which must have appeared to contemporaries only 
as the prelude of a passing storm, tending to purify 
the moral horizon, soon created a whirlwind which 
tore up the very roots of the Roman power, and 
prepared the minds of men to receive new impres- 

The government of Phocas soon convinced the 
majority of his subjects, that the rebellion of a 
licentious army, and the sedition of a pampered 
populace, were not sources capable of selecting the 
proper instruments for ameliorating the condition of 
the empire. In spite of the hopes of his followers, 
of the eulogium on the column which still exists in 
the Roman forum, and of the praises of Pope 
Gregory the Great, it was quickly discovered that 
Phocas was a worse sovereign than his predecessor. 
Even as a soldier, he was inferior to Maurice, and 
the glory of the Roman arms was stained by his 
cowardice or incapacity. Chosroes, the king of 
Persia, moved, as he asserted, by gratitude, and the 
respect due to the memory of his benefactor 
Maurice, declared war against his murderer. A 
war commenced between the Persian and Roman 
empires, which proved the last and bloodiest of their 
numerous struggles ; and its violence and strange 
vicissitudes contributed, in a great degree, to the 
dissolution of both these ancient monarchies. The 
success of Chosroes compelled Phocas to conclude 
an immediate peace with the Avars, in order to 

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secure himself from being attacked in Constanti- 
nople.* The treaty which he concluded is of great 
importance in the history of the Greek population 
in Europe ; but unfortunately we can only trace it 
in its effects at a later period. The whole of the 
agricultural districts of the Roman empire hi 
Europe, was virtually abandoned to the ravages of 
the northern people, and from the Danube to the 
Peloponnesus, the Sclavonian tribes ravaged the 
country with impunity, or settled in the depopulated 
provinces almost unnoticed. Phocas availed him- 
self of the treaty to transport into Asia the whole 
military force which he could collect, but the Roman 
armies, having lost their discipline, were every 
where defeated. Mesopotamia, Syria, Palestine, 
Phoenicia, Cappadocia, Galatia, and Paphlagonia, 
were laid waste ; and nothing appears to have saved 
the Roman empire from complete conquest by the 
Persians, but the wars carried on at the time by 
Chosroes with the Armenians and the Turks, which 
prevented his concentrating his whole force against 
Constantinople. The tyranny and incapacity of 
Phocas rapidly increased the disorders in the civil 
and military administration ; seditions broke out in 
the army, and rebellions in the provinces. The 
emperor, either because he partook of the bigotry 
of his age, or because he desired, by his measures, 
to secure the support of the clergy, and the applause 
of the populace, determined to prove his orthodoxy, 
by ordering all the Jews in the empire to be 
baptized. The Jews, who formed a wealthy and 

• Theophams CArow. 245. 251. 

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powerful class in many of the cities of the East, 
resisted this act of oppression, and caused a bloody 
sedition, which contributed much to aid the progress 
of the Persian arms. 

Various districts and provinces in the distant 
parts of the empire, observing the confusion which 
reigned in the central administration, and the 
increasing weakness of the imperial power, availed 
themselves of the opportunity to extend the 
authority of their municipal institutions; and the 
dawn of papal authority, and Italian civil liberty, 
began to exist, though it is hardly perceptible in 
history. Phocas at last exhausted the patience even 
of the timid aristocracy of Constantinople, and all 
classes directed their attention to seek a successor 
to the tyrant. Heraclius, the exarch of Africa, had 
commanded with success in the former war with 
Persia, and had long governed Africa, in which 
his family possessed great influence, almost as an 
independent sovereign.* To him the leading men 
at Constantinople addressed their complaints and 
their prayers that he would deliver the empire from 
ruin, and dethrone the reigning tyrant. 

The exarch of Africa soon collected a consider- 
able army, and fitted out a numerous fleet. The 
command of this expedition was given to his son 
Heraclius ; and as the possession of Egypt, which 
supplied provisions for the idle populace of the 
capital, was necessary to secure tranquillity after 
conquest, Nicetas, the nephew of the exarch, was 
sent with an army to support his cousin, and 
secure both Egypt and Syria. Heraclius proceeded 

* Dufresne Ducaxge, Ilistoria Byzanlina, 117. 

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directly to Constantinople, and the fate of Phocas 
was decided in a single naval engagement, fought 
within sight of his palace. The disorder which 
reigned in every branch of the administration, in 
consequence of the folly and incapacity of the 
ignorant soldier who ruled the empire, was so great, 
that no measures had been concerted for offering 
a vigorous resistance to the African expedition. 
Phocas was taken prisoner, and brought before the 
young Heraclius, who asked him why he had 
governed the empire so ill. The tyrant replied 
with singular dignity, feeling, probably, that the 
difficulties of the task were quite as great an 
obstacle to good government as his own incapacity. 
44 Govern it better," was his proud answer. Heraclius 
lost his temper at the advantage which his predecessor 
had gained in this verbal contest ; and, as if to shew 
that it was very questionable whether he himself 
would prove either a wiser sovereign or a better man 
than Phocas, he struck the dethroned emperor with 
his own hand, and then ordered his limbs to be cut 
off before his body was decapitated. All the leading 
partizans of Phocas and his family were executed, 
as if to afford evidence that the cruelty of that 
tyrant had been as much a national as a personal 
vice. Since his death, he has been fortunate 
enough to find defenders, who consider that his 
alliance with Pope Gregory, and his leaning towards 
the Latin party in the church, are to be regarded as 
signs of virtue, and proofs of a capacity for 

* Several works have been published concerning the Emperor Phocas, but 
they appear to be wanting in the Bibliothcquc du Roi, and in the library of 

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The young Heraclius became emperor of the East, 
and his father continued to rule Africa, which the 
family appear to have regarded as a hereditary 
domain. For several years, the government of the 
new emperor was quite as unsuccessful as that of 
his predecessor, though, doubtless, it was more popu- 
lar and less tyrannical. There are reasons, however, 
for believing, that this period of apparent misgovern- 
ment and general misfortune was not one of complete 
neglect. Though defeats and disgraces followed one 
another with rapidity, the causes of these disasters 
had grown up during the preceding reigns ; and 
Heraclius was compelled to labour silently in clearing 
away many petty abuses, and in forming a new 
corps of civil and military officers, before he could 
venture on any important act. His chief attention 
was of necessity devoted to prepare for the great 
struggle of restoring the Roman empire to some 

the British Museum : A. de Stoppelaar, Oratio pro Phoea ImpercUore ; 
and Simon Van der Brink, Oratio in Phoeam ImpercUorem, Amstel. 
1732. VerikeuHgung dc$ K. Phocat, in Erlangucken gelehrten Anzeigen 
auf dot Jahr. 1749, p. 321 — 328, 409—414. This last work defends 
him against the accusation of having founded the power of the Popes — a 
virtue, and not a crime, in the eyes of some. D. Ctpriani Vom Urtprung 
des Papothumt, c. xvii. 812. 

See, Bibliotheea Historica instructs a Stntvio, aueta a Bu<Uro, nunc tero 
a Muulio digtfta. Lipsise, Weidmann, 1790, 11 vols. 

Both Phocas and Maurice were Cappadocians, and the verses in the 
Anthology probably were not very advantageous to the tranquillity of these 

^etuXiri^or xi{3«t/f 2' t'mxa QauXtrartt. x. r. A.. 
Antholog. iii 54, ed. Tauch. Joannis Lydi, De Magirt. P. R. p. 250, 
ed. Bonn. 

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portion of its undent strength and power; and he 
had enough of the Roman spirit to resolve, that, if 
lie could not succeed, he would risk his own life 
and fortune in the attempt, and perish in the 
ruins of civilized society. History affords few 
records of the measures adopted by Heraclius 
during the early years of his reign ; but their effect 
in reviving the strength and the energy of the 
imperial administration, is testified by the great 
changes which mark the subsequent period. 

The reign of Heraclius is one of the most remark- 
able eras both in the history of the empire, and in 
the annals of mankind. It warded off the almost 
inevitable destruction of the Roman government for 
another century"; it laid the foundation of that 
policy which prolonged the existence of the imperial 
power at Constantinople under a new modification, 
as the Byzantine or Greek monarchy ; and it marks 
the period in the records of the human race, when 
that moral change came into active operation, which 
soon transformed the language and manners of the 
ancient world into those of modern nations. The 
eastern empire seems to be indebted to the talents 
of Heraclius, for its escape from those ages of bar- 
barism which, for many centuries, prevailed in all 
western Europe. No period of society could offer a 
field for instructive study more likely to present 
practical results to the highly civilized political 
communities of modern Europe ; yet there is no 
time of which the existing memorials of the consti- 
tution and frame of society are so imperfect and 
unsatisfactory. A few important historical facts 
and single events can alone be gleaned, from which 

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an outline of the administration of ileradius may 
be drawn, and an attempt made to describe the 
situation of his Greek subjects. 

The loss of many extensive provinces, and the 
destruction of numerous large armies since the 
death of Justinian, had given rise to a persuasion 
that the end of the Roman empire was approach- 
ing ; and the events of the earlier part of the reign 
of Heraclius were not calculated to remove this 
impression. The civil government became gradually 
more oppressive in the capital, as the revenues of the 
provinces conquered by the Persians were lost. The 
military power of the empire had declined to such a 
degree, that the Roman armies w r ere no where able 
to keep the field. A review of the position of the 
empire at the accession of Heraclius, attests the 
extraordinary talents of the man who could emerge 
from the accumulated disadvantages of his own 
situation, and that of his government, and rush on 
in a career of glory and conquest almost unrivalled. 
It proves also the wonderful perfection of the system 
of administration, which admitted of reconstructing 
the fabric of the civil government, after its whole 
organization had been completely shattered. The 
ancient supremacy of the Roman empire could not 
be restored by human genius : the progress of man- 
kind down the stream of time, had rendered a return 
to the past condition of the world impracticable, but 
yet the progress of the torrent was, for a few years, 
arrested, and its current turned aside. The emperor's 
talents saved the empire and the imperial city of 
Constantinople, from almost certain destruction by 
the Persians and the Avars : and though his fortune 

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sank before the first fury of Mahommed's enthusiastic 
votaries, his sagacious administration had prepared 
those powerful means of resistance, which enabled 
the Greeks to check the Saracen armies almost at 
the threshold of their dominions; and the caliphs, 
while extending their successful conquests to the 
Indian Ocean and the Atlantic, were, for centuries, 
compelled to wage a doubtful war on the northern 
frontiers of Syria. 

It was, perhaps, a misfortune for mankind, that 
Ileraclius w r as bv birth a Roman rather than a 
Greek, as his views were, from that accident, 
directed to the maintenance of the imperial 
dominion, without any reference to the national 
organization of his people. His civilization, like 
that of a large portion of the ruling class in the 
eastern empire, was now too far removed from the 
state of ignorance into which the mass of the 
population had fallen, for the one to be influenced 
by the feelings of the other, or for both to act 
together with the energy conferred by unity of 
purpose in a variety of ranks. Ileraclius being, by 
birth and family connections, an African noble, 
must have regarded himself as of pure Roman 
blood, superior to all national prejudices, and 
bound by duty and policy to repress the domi- 
neering spirit of the Greek aristocracy in the state, 
and of the Greek hierarchy in the Church.* 
Language and manners began to give to national 
feelings, almost as much power in forming men into 
distinct societies as political arrangements. The 

* Ducanoe, Historia Byzantina, 117. 

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influence of the clergy followed the divisions 
established by language, rather than the political 
organization adopted by the government: and as the 
clergy now formed the most popular and able portion 
of society, the church exerted more influence over 
the minds of the people than the civil administration, 
and the imperial power, even though the emperor 
was the acknowledged sovereign and master of the 
patriarchs and the pope. It is necessary to observe 
here, that the established church of the empire had 
ceased to be the universal Christian church. The 
Greeks had rendered themselves the sole depositaries 
of its power and influence ; they had already 
corrupted Christianity into the Greek church ; and 
every nation not Greek was rapidly forming a 
number of separate ecclesiastical societies to 
supply its own spiritual wants. The great body 
of the Armenians, Syrians, and Egyptians, were 
induced by national aversion from the eccle- 
siastical tyranny of the Greeks, as well as by 
spiritual preference of the doctrines of Nestorius 
and Eutyches, to oppose the established church. At 
the time Heraclius ascended the throne, these 
national and religious feelings already possessed the 
power of modifying the operations of the Roman 
government, and of enabling mankind to advance 
one step towards the establishment of individual 
liberty and intellectual independence. Circumstances, 
which will be subsequently noticed, 4 prevented 
society from making any progress in this career of 
improvement, and effectually arrested its advance 
for many centuries. In western Europe, this struggle 
never entirely lost its important characteristic of a 

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moral contest for the enjoyment of personal rights, 
and the exercise of individual opinion ; and as no 
central government succeeded in maintaining itself 
permanently independent of all national feelings, a 
check on the formation of absolute authority always 
existed, both in the church and state. But the first 
display of a spirit of national feelings, combining 
with individual liberty, and opening up new views 
of civilization to the human intellect, really arose in 
the East. Ileraclius, in his desire to restore the 
power of the empire, strove to destroy these senti- 
ments of religious liberty. His plans of coercion or 
conciliation would evidently have failed as completely 
with the Nestorians, Eutychians, and Jacobites, as 
they did with the Jews ; but the contest with 
Mahommedanism closed the struggle, and concen- 
trated the w r hole strength of the unconquered 
population of the empire in supporting the Greek 
church and the Constantinopolitan government. 

In order fully to comprehend the lamentable 
state of weakness to which the empire was reduced, 
it will be necessary to take a cursory view of the 
condition of the different provinces. The continual 
ravages of the barbarians who occupied the country 
beyond the Danube had extended as far south as 
the Peloponnesus. The agricultural population was 
almost exterminated, except in those districts where 
it w T as protected by the immediate vicinity of 
fortified towns, or secured by the fastnesses of the 
mountains. The inhabitants of all the countries 
between the Archipelago and the Adriatic had been 
greatly diminished, and fertile provinces remained 
every where desolate, ready to receive the first 

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occupant. As great part of these countries yielded 
very little revenue to the government, they were 
considered by the court of Constantinople as of very 
little value, except in so far as they covered the 
capital from hostile attacks, and commanded the 
commercial routes to the west of Europe. At this 
time, the Indian and Chinese trade had in part been 
forced round the north of the Caspian Sea, in 
consequence of the Persian conquests in Syria and 
Egypt, and the disturbed state of the country 
immediately to the east of Persia. The rich 
produce transported by the caravans, which reached 
the northern shores of the Black Sea, was then 
transported to Constantinople, and from thence 
distributed through western Europe. Under these 
circumstances, Thessalonica and Dyrrachium be- 
came points of great consequence to the empire, 
and were successfully defended by the emperor 
amidst all his calamities. These two cities com- 
manded the extremities of the usual road between 
Constantinople and Ravenna, and connected the 
towns on the Archipelago with the Adriatic and 
with Rome.* The open country was abandoned to 
the Avars and Sclavonians, who were allowed to 
effect permanent settlements even to the south of 
the Via Egnatia; but none of these settlements 
were suffered to interfere with the lines of com- 
munication, without which, the imperial influence 
in Italy would have been soon annihilated, and the 
trade of the West lost to the Greeks. The 
ambition of the barbarians was inclined to dare any 

* Tafel de Thessalonica, pruleg. cviii. p. 221. HUllman, Geschichte de$ 
Byzantin. Handels. 76. 

2 B 

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attempt to encroach on the wealth of the eastern 
empire, and they tried to establish a system of 
maritime depredations in the Archipelago ; but 
Heraclius was able to frustrate their schemes, 
though it is probable that he owed his success more 
to the exertions of the mercantile population of 
the Greek cities, than to the exploits of his own 

When disorder reigned in the territory nearest to 
the seat of government, it cannot be supposed that 
the administration of the distant provinces was 
conducted with greater prudence or success. The 
Gothic kingdom of Spain was, at this time, ruled by 
Sisebut,f an able and enlightened monarch, whose 
policy was directed to gain over the Roman 
provincials by peaceful measures, and his arms to 
conquer the remaining territories of the empire in 
the Peninsula. He soon reduced the imperial 
possessions to a small extent of coast on the ocean, 
embracing the modern province of Algarve, and a 
few towns on the shores of the Mediterranean. 
He likewise interrupted the communications be- 
tween the Roman troops in Spain and Africa, by 
building a fleet, and conquering Tangiers and the 
neighbouring country. Heraclius concluded a treaty 
with Sisebut, in the year 614, and the Romans were 
thus enabled to retain their Spanish territories until 
the reign of Suintilla, who, while Heraclius was 
engaged in his Persian campaigns, finally expelled 
the Romans (or the Greeks, as they were generally 
termed in the West) from the Spanish continent.:): 

• Paul. Diaconus, iv. 21. t A. D. 610—619. $ A. D. 623. 

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Seventy-nine years had elapsed since the Roman 
authority had been re-established in the south of 
Spain by the conquests of Justinian ; and under the 
disadvantages to which the imperial power was 
exposed, the commercial superiority of the Greeks 
enabled them to preserve the Balearic Islands until 
a later period.* 

National distinctions and religious interests 
tended to divide the population, and to balance 
political power, much more in Italy than in the 
other countries of Europe. The influence of the 
church in protecting the people, the weakness of 
the Lombard sovereigns, from the small numerical 
strength of their native population, and the oppres- 
sive fiscal government of the Roman exarchs, gave 
the Italians the means of creating a national 
existence, amidst the conflicts of their masters. 
Yet, so imperfect was the unity of interests, or so 
great were the difficulties of communication between 
the people of various parts of Italy, that the 
imperial authority not only defended its own 
dominions with success against foreign enemies, 
but also repressed with ease the ambitious or 
patriotic attempts of the popes to acquire political 
power ; punishing equally the seditions of the 
people, and the rebellions of the chiefs, who, like 
John Compsa of Naples, and the Exarch Eleu- 
therinus, aspired at independence. 

Africa alone, of all the provinces of the empire, 

* Roman and Greek interests, and party feelings, continued to maintain 
some influence in the Peninsula for many years. In 673, the Duke Flavins 
Paulus, a provincial in the service of the Goths, almost succeeded in seizing 
the crown of Spain. History of Spain and Portugal, vol. i. 137. Cabinet 
Cyclop. Asch bach's Getchichtt der Wettgothen. 

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continued to use the Latin language in ordinary 
life ; and its inhabitants regarded themselves, with 
some reason, as the purest descendants of the 
Romans. After the victories of John the Patrician, 
it had enjoyed a long period of tranquillity, and its 
prosperity was undisturbed by any spirit of nation- 
ality adverse to the supremacy of the empire, or by 
schismatic opinions hostile to the church. The 
barbarous tribes to the south were feeble enemies, 
and no foreign state possessed a naval force capable 
of troubling its repose, or interrupting its commerce. 
Under the able and fortunate administration of 
Heraclius and Gregoras, the father and uncle of the 
emperor, Africa formed the most flourishing portion 
of the empire. Its prosperous condition, and the 
wars raging in other countries, threw great part of 
the commerce of the Mediterranean into the hands 
of the Africans. Wealth and population increased 
to such a degree, that the naval expedition of the 
Emperor Heraclius, and the army of his cousin 
Nicetas, were fitted out from the resources of 
Africa alone. Another strong proof of the pros- 
perity of the province, of its importance to the 
empire, and of its attachment to the interests of 
the Heraclian family, is afforded by the resolution 
which the emperor adopted, in the ninth year of 
his reign, of transferring the imperial residence from 
Constantinople to Carthage. 

The immense population of Constantinople gave 
great inquietude to the government. Constantine 
the Great, in order to favour the increase of his new 
capital, had granted weekly allowances of grain to 
the possessors of houses. Succeeding emperors, for 

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the purpose of caressing the populace, and esta- 
blishing a disposition on the part of those who 
dwelt around them, to flatter the imperial govern- 
ment, had largely increased the numbers of those 
entitled to this gratuity. In 618, the Persians 
overran Egypt, and by their conquest stopped the 
annual supplies of grain destined for the public 
distributions in the capital. Heraclius, pressed in 
his finances, but fearing to announce the discon- 
tinuance of these allowances, so necessary to keep 
the population of Constantinople in good humour, 
engaged to continue the supply, on receiving a pay- 
ment of three pieces of gold from each claimant. 
His necessities, however, very soon became so great, 
that he ceased to continue the distributions, and 
thus defrauded those citizens of their money, whom 
fortune had deprived of their bread.* The danger 
of his position must have been greatly increased by 
this bankruptcy, and the dishonour must have ren- 
dered his residence among the people whom he had 
deceived galling to his mind. Shame, therefore, 
may possibly have suggested to Heraclius the idea 
of quitting Constantinople ; but his selection of 
Carthage, as the city to which he wished to transfer 
the seat of government, must have been determined 
by the wealth, population, and security of the 
African province. Carthage offered military re- 
sources for recovering possession of Egypt and Syria, 
of which we can only now estimate the extent, by 
taking into consideration the expedition that placed 
Heraclius himself on the throne. Many reasons 

* Ckronicon Pa$chaU, 389. 

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connected with the constitution of the civil govern- 
ment of the empire, might likewise be adduced as 
tending to influence the preference. 

In Constantinople, an immense body of idle 
inhabitants had been collected, a mass that had 
long formed a burden on the state, and acquired a 
right to a portion of its resources. A numerous 
nobility, and a permanent imperial household, con- 
ceived, that they formed a portion of the Roman 
government, from the prominent part which they 
acted in the ceremonial that connected the emperor 
with the people. Thus, the great natural advantages 
of the geographical position of the capital were 
neutralized, by moral and political causes ; while the 
desolate state of the European provinces, and the 
vicinity of the northern frontier, began to expose 
it to frequent sieges. As a fortress and place of 
arms, it might have still formed the bulwark of the 
empire in Europe ; but while it remained the capital, 
its immense unproductive population required, that 
too large a part of the resources of the state should be 
devoted to its supply of provisions, to guard against 
the factions and the seditions of its populace, and 
to maintain in it a powerful garrison. The luxury 
of the Roman court had, during ages of unbounded 
wealth and unlimited power, assembled round the 
emperor an infinity of courtly offices, and caused an 
enormous expenditure, by a host of useless public 
employments, which it was extremely difficult to 

No national feelings or particular line of policy 
connected Heraclius with Constantinople, and his 
long absence during the active years of his life 

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indicates, that, as long as his personal energy and 
health allowed him to direct the whole of the public 
administration, he considered the constant residence 
of the emperor in that city, as injurious to the general 
interests of the state. On the other hand, Carthage 
was, at this time, peculiarly a Roman city ; and in 
actual wealth, in the numbers of its independent 
citizens, and in the activity of its whole population, 
was probably inferior to no city in the empire. It 
is not surprising, therefore, that Heraclius, when 
compelled to suppress the public distributions of 
grain in the capital, to retrench the expenditure 
of his court, and make many reforms in his civil 
government, should have wished to place the imperial 
treasury and his owji resources in a place of greater 
security, before he engaged in his desperate struggle 
with Persia. The wish, therefore, to make Carthage 
the capital of the Roman empire, may, with far 
greater probability, be connected with the gallant 
project of his eastern campaigns, than serve as ground 
for a conjecture, that he was influenced by the 
cowardly or selfish motives attributed to him by the 
Byzantine writers. 

When the project of Heraclius to remove to 
Carthage was generally known, the Greek patriarch, 
the Greco-Roman aristocracy, and the Byzantine 
people, became alarmed at the loss of power, wealth, 
public shows, and largesses consequent on the 
departure of the court ; though it may be regarded 
as a doubtful question, whether the Roman empire 
and the Greek nation would not really have been 
gainers by the change. As far as Heraclius was 
personally concerned, the anxiety displayed by every 

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class to retain him, may have relieved his mind from 
the shame caused by his financial fraud ; and as want 
of personal courage was certainly not one of his 
defects, he may have abandoned a wise resolution 
without much regret, if he had thought the enthusiasm 
which he witnessed likely to aid his military plans. 
The patriarch and the people, hearing that he had 
shipped his treasures, and prepared to follow with 
all the imperial family, assembled tumultuously, and 
induced the emperor to swear in the church of St 
Sophia, that he would defend the empire to his 
death, and regard the people of Constantinople as 
peculiarly the children of his throne. 

Egypt, from its wonderful natural resources, and 
its numerous and industrious population, had long 
been the most valuable province of the empire. It 
yielded a very great portion of its gross produce 
into the imperial treasury ; for its agricultural 
population being separated from all political power 
and influence, were compelled to pay, not only 
taxes, but a tribute, which may be viewed as a rent 
for the soil, to the Roman government. At this 
time, however, the wealth of Egypt was on the 
decline. The circumstances which had driven the 
trade of India to the north, had caused a great 
decrease in the demand for the grain of Egypt on 
the shores of the Red Sea, and for its manufactures, 
in Arabia and Abyssinia, or Ethiopia. The canal 
between the Nile and the Red Sea, whose existence 
is intimately connected with the prosperity of these 
countries, had been neglected during the govern- 
ment of Phocas. A large portion of the Greek 
population of Alexandria had been ruined, because 

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an end had been put to the public distributions of 
grain, and poverty had invaded the fertile land of 
Egypt- John the Almsgiver, who was patriarch in 
the reign of Heraclius, did every thing in his power 
to alleviate this misery. He established hospitals, 
and devoted the revenues of his see to charity ; but 
he was an enemy to heresy, and, consequently, he 
was hardly looked on as a friend by the native 
population. National feelings, religious opinions, 
and local interests, had always nourished, in the 
minds of the native Egyptians, a deep-rooted hatred 
of the Roman administration, and of the Greek 
church; and this feeling of hostility only became 
more concentrated, after the union of the offices of 
prefect and patriarch by Justinian. A complete 
line of separation existed between the Greek colony 
of Alexandria and the native population ; but the 
natives had, during the decline of the Greeks and 
Jews of Alexandria, intruded themselves into that 
city. The cause of the emperor was now connected 
with the commercial interests of the Greek and 
Melchite city, while the ruling classes in that city 
were, by the agricultural population of the rest of 
the province, regarded as interlopers on their sacred 
Jacobite soil.* John the Almsgiver, though a Greek 
patriarch, and an imperial prefect, was not perfectly 

* The Melclutes were those Christians in Syria and Egypt, who, though 
not Greeks, followed the doctrines of the Greek church. They were called 
Melchites (royalists, from Melcha, Syriac, a king) by their adversaries, by 
way of reproach, on account of their implicit obedience to the edict of 
Marcian, in favour of the council of Chalcedon. Jacob Baradseus, or 
Zanzalus, bishop of Edessa, the great heterodox apostle of the East, blended 
the various sects of Eutychians and Monophysites into a powerful church, 
whose followers were generally called, after his death, Jacobites. He died 
A. D. 578. — MosHEiit's Ecclesicwtical Hittory, (Murdoch's Am. ed.) i. 494. 

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free from the charge of heresy, nor, perhaps, of 
employing the revenues under his control with 
more attention to charity than to public utility. 
The exigencies of Heraclius were so great, that he 
sent his cousin, the Patrician Nicetas, to Egypt, in 
order to seize the immense wealth which the 
Patriarch John was said to possess. In the follow- 
ing year the Persians invaded the province ; and 
the patrician and patriarch, unable to defend even 
the city of Alexandria, fled to Cyprus, while the 
enemy was allowed to ravage the valley of the Nile 
to the borders of Libya and Ethiopia, without 
meeting any opposition from the imperial forces, 
and apparently with the good wishes of the Egyp- 
tians. The plunder obtained from public property 
and slaves was immense ; and as the power of the 
Greeks was annihilated, the native Egyptians 
availed themselves of the opportunity to acquire 
a dominant influence in the administration of their 

For ten years the province owned allegiance to 
Persia, though it enjoyed a certain degree of doubtful 
independence under the immediate government of a 
native intendant-general of the land revenues, named 
Mokaukas, who subsequently, at the time of the 
Saracen conquest, occupied a conspicuous part in 
the history of his country. During the Persian 
supremacy, he became so influential in the adminis- 
tration, that he is styled by several writers the 
Prince of Egypt.* Mokaukas, though under the 

* P. Ckronieon Oriental*, a J. S. Assemano, 85. ed. Venet. The 
million of the Patrician Nicetas to 8eize the wealth of John the Charitable 
must have taken place before the year 616, as in that year he died on his 

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Roman government, had conformed to the esta- 
blished church, in order to hold an official situation, 
and was, like most of his countrymen, at heart a Mono- 
physite, and consequently inclined to oppose the 
imperial administration, both from religious and 
political motives. Yet, it appears that a portion of 
the Monophysite clergy steadily refused to submit 
to the Persian government ; and Benjamin, their 
patriarch, retired from his residence at Alexandria, 
when that city fell into the hands of the Persians, 
and did not return, until Heraclius had recovered pos- 
session of Egypt.* Mokaukas established himself 
in the city of Babylon, or Misr, which had grown 
up, on the decline of Memphis, to be the native 
capital of the province, and the chief city in the 
interior, f The moment appears to have been 
extremely favourable for the establishment of an 
independent state by the Monophysite Egyptians, 
since, amidst the conflicts of the Persian and Roman 
empires, the immense revenues and supplies of grain 
formerly paid to the emperor, might have been 
devoted to the defence of the country. But the 

way to Constantinople. Le Beau and Gibbon, on the authority of Baronius 
in bis Annates Ecclesiastics, place this event in the year 620 , but Petau, in 
his Notes to Nicephorus the Patriarch, had observed the anachronism of five 
years. Ad Nicephora? Breviar, Hist. Notce, 64. See also Le Beau, His- 
toire du Bos-Empire, xi. 53. Gibbon's Decline and Fall, viii. 234, note. 
Assemani, Biblioth. Orient, iv. 1. Chronicon Orientate, 126, ed. Venet 

* Chronicon Orientate, 127. " Abfuit autera sede sua profugus per annos 
13, decern scilicet sub iraperio Heraclii quibus Persee, Egyptum et Alexan- 
drian* possederant, et tres sub imperio Mohametanorum," &c. Yet, Benjamin 
is said to have been banished by Heraclius for ten years. Renaudot, His- 
toria Patriarchorum Alexandrinorum Jacobitorum. 

f Strabo (lib. xvii. c. 1. torn. iii. p. 447, ed. Tauch.) mentions Babylon as 
a fortified town, and one of the stations of the Roman garrison in Egypt It 
occupied the site of Old Cairo, and is famous in the history and poetry of the 
middle ages. Le Beau, xi. 277, notes de S. M. 

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native population appeal's, from the conduct of the 
Patriarch Benjamin, not to have been united in its 
views ; and probably the agricultural classes, though 
numerous, living in abundance, and firm in their 
Monophysite tenets, had not the knowledge 
necessary to aspire at national independence, the 
strength of character required to achieve it, nor the 
command of the precious metals necessary to pur- 
chase the service of mercenary troops and provide 
the materials of war. They had been so long 
deprived of all political rights, that they had pro- 
bably adopted the opinion prevalent among the 
subjects of all despotic governments, that public 
functionaries are invariably knaves, and that the 
oppression of the native is more grievous than the 
yoke of a stranger. The moral defects of the people 
could certainly, at this favourable conjuncture, alone 
have prevented the establishment of an independent 
Egyptian and Jacobite state. 

In Syria and Palestine, the different races who 
peopled the country were then, as in our own day, 
extremely divided ; and their separation, by language, 
manners, interests, and religion, rendered it impos- 
sible for them to unite, for the purpose of gaining 
any object opposed by the imperial government. 
The native Syrians, though they retained their 
language and literature, and shewed the strength of 
their national character by their opposition to the 
Greek church, were far from forming the majority 
of the inhabitants of the province. They were 
farther divided by their religious opinions ; for, though 
generally Monophysites, a part was attached to the 
Nestorian church, and the rest were Jacobites, The 

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Greeks appear to have formed the most numerous 
class of the population, though they were almost 
entirely confined within the walls of the cities. 
Many of them were, doubtless, the direct descen- 
dants of the colonies which had prospered and 
increased under the domination of the Seleucidse. 
The protection and patronage of the civil and 
ecclesiastical administration of the eastern empire 
had preserved these Greek colonies separate from 
the natives, and supported them by a continual 
influx of Greeks engaged in the service of the 
church and state. But, though the Greeks probably 
formed the most numerous body of the population, 
yet the circumstance of their composing the ruling 
class in the land, united all the other classes in 
opposition to their authority. Being, consequently, 
deprived of the support of the agricultural popula- 
tion, and unable to recruit their numbers by an 
influx from their rural neighbours, they became more 
and more aliens in the country, and were alone 
incapable of offering a long and steady resistance to 
any foreign enemy, without the constant support of 
the imperial treasury and armies. 

The Jews, whose religion and nationality have 
always supported one another, had, for more than a 
century, been increasing very remarkably, both in 
numbers and wealth, in every part of the civilized 
world. The wars and rivalry of the various nations, 
of conquerors, and of conquered people, in the south 
of Europe, had opened to the Jews a freedom of 
commercial intercourse with all parties, which each 
nation, moved by national jealousy, refused to its 
own neighbours, and only conceded to a foreign 

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people, of whom no political jealousy could be 
entertained. This circumstance explains the extra- 
ordinary increase in the number of the Jews, which 
becomes apparent, in the seventh century, in Greece, 
Africa, Spain, and Arabia, by referring it to the 
ordinary laws of the multiplication of the human 
species, when facilities are found for acquiring aug- 
mented supplies of the means of subsistence, with- 
out inducing us to suppose, that the Jews succeeded, 
during this period, in making more proselytes than 
at other times they had done. The increase of their 
numbers and wealth soon roused the bigotry and 
jealousy of the Christians ; and the deplorable con- 
dition of the Roman empire, and of the Christian 
population in the East, inspired the Jews with some 
expectations of soon re-establishing their national 
independence, under the expected Messiah. It must 
be confessed, that the desire of availing themselves 
of the misfortunes of the Roman empire, and of the 
dissensions of the Christian church, was the natural 
consequence of the oppression to which they had 
long been subjected, and which it not unnaturally 
tended to increase. 

It is said that about this time a prophecy was 
current, which declared that the Roman empire 
would be overthrown by a circumcised people. 
This report may have been spread by the Jews, in 
order to excite their own ardour, and assist their 
projects of rebellion ; but the prophecy was saved 
from oblivion by the subsequent conquests of the 
Saracens, which could never have been foreseen by 
its authors. The conduct of the Jews excited the 
bigotry, as it may have awakened the fears, of the 

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imperial government, and both Piiocas and Heraclius 
attempted to exterminate the Jewish religion, and 
thus put an end to their national existence.* 
Heraclius not only practised every species of cruelty 
himself, to effect this object within the bounds of 
his own dominions, but he even made the forced 
conversion or banishment of the Jews, a prominent 
feature in his diplomacy. He consoled himself for 
the loss of most of the Roman possessions in Spain, 
by inducing Sisebut to insert an article in the treaty 
of peace concluded in 614, engaging to force 
baptism on the Jews ; and he considered, that even 
though he failed in persuading the Franks to 
co-operate with him against the Avars, in the year 
620, he had rendered the empire and Christianity 
some service by inducing Dagobent to join in the 
project of exterminating the unfortunate Jews.f 

The other portions of the Syrian population, 
aspired at independence, though they did not openly 
venture to assert it ; and during the Persian conquest, 
the coast of Phoenicia successfully defended itself 
under the command of its native chiefs.^: At a 
later period, when the Mohammedans invaded the 

* Eutychh Annates Ecdesicut. Alexand. II., 216. 236. The number of 
the Jews at Tyre was 40,000. Their riches appear to have caused their 
oppression, and the tyranny of their rulers drove them to rebellion. The 
policy of Heraclius contrasts very unfavourably with that of the Gothic king, 
Theoderic the Great, who, about a century before, addressed the Jews of 
Genoa in these words, — " We cannot command religion, for no one can be 
compelled to believe if he be unwilling." Cassiodori Var. lib. xii. c. ii. 
ep. 27. 

+ There were still Christians who disapproved of the forced conversion of 
the Jews. Saint Isidore says, " Sisebutus Judaeos ad fidem Christianam 
permovens eemulationem quidem Dei habuit, sed non scientiam." I si dor. 
Hisp. Ch. Goth. See Asch bach's Geschichte der Westgothen. 

X Assemani Bib. Orient, iii. 421. And his Bibliotheea juris orientcUis, 
vol. vi. c. 20, p. 393. 

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pro vince, many chiefs exist ml, who had attained a 
considerable degree of local power, and exercised an 
almost independent authority in their districts.* 

As the Roman administration grew weaker in 
Syria, and the Persian invasions became more 
frequent, the Arabs gradually acquired many per- 
manent settlements amidst the rest of the inhabi- 
tants ; and from the commencement of the seventh 
century, they must be reckoned as an important 
class of the population. Their power within the 
Roman provinces was increased by the existence of 
two independent Arab kingdoms in the neighbour- 
hood, which had been formed in part from territories 
gained from the Roman and Persian empires. One 
of these kingdoms, called Ghassan, was the constant 
ally or vassal of the Romans ; and the other called 
Hira, was equally attached to, or dependent on 
Persia. Both were Christian states, though the 
conversion of Hira took place not very long before 
the reign of Heraclius, and the greater part were 
Jacobites, mixed with some Nestorians.f It may 
be remarked, that the Arabs had been gradually 
advancing in moral and political civilization during 
the sixth century, and that their religious ideas had 
undergone a very great change. The decline of 
their powerful neighbours, had allowed them to in- 
crease the importance of the commerce which they 
retained in their own hands, and its extension gave 
them more enlarged views of their own importance, 
and suggested ideas of national unity which they had 

* Ockley's History of the Saracens, i. 233 ; for Edesea, Theophanis Ch. 
283 ; and Abou'lfaradj, Ch. Syr. 1 1 9. 

t Sale's Preliminary Discount to the Koran, 30. 

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not previously entertained. These causes had pro- 
duced powerfiil effects on the whole of the Arab 
population, during the century which preceded the 
accession of Heraclius; and it must not be over- 
looked, that Mohammed himself had at that period 
attained the age of forty. 

The country between Syria and Armenia, or that 
part of ancient Chaldea which was subject to the 
Romans, had been so repeatedly laid waste during 
the Persian wars, that the agricultural population 
was uearly exterminated, or had retired into the 
Persian provinces. The inhabitants of no portion of 
the empire were so eager to throw off their alle- 
giance, as the Chaldaic Christians, called by the 
Greeks, Nestorians, who formed the majority of the 
population of this country.* They had clung firmly 
to the doctrine of the two natures of Christ, after its 
condemnation by the council of Ephesus, (A.D. 449,) 
and when they found themselves unable to contend 
against the temporal power and spiritual influence of 
the Greeks, they had established an independent 
church, which directed its attention, with great zeal, 
to the spiritual guidance of those Christians who 
dwelt beyond the limits of the Roman empire. The 
history of their missions, by which churches were 

* The Chaldaic Christians considered, and still consider, theirs the real 
apostolic church, though, like all other Christian churches, it partook largely 
of a national character. They used the Syriac language in public worship. 
Their patriarch resided at Seleucia, in Persia. He now resides at a monas- 
tery near Mossul. They had many bishops in Syria and Armenia, as well as 
in Mesopotamia. They were charged with confounding the divine and 
human natures of Christ, and they wished the Virgin Mary to be called the 
mother of Christ, not, as was then usual, the mother of God. They worshipped 
no images, so that their opinions appear to have influenced the Iconoclasts of 
a later period, and they venerated Nestorius. 

2 C 

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established in India and China, is an extremely inte- 
resting portion of the annals of Christianity.* Their 
zealous exertions, and their connection with the 
Christian inhabitants of Persia, induced the Roman 
emperors to persecute them with great cruelty, from 
political as well as religious motives ; and this perse- 
cution often insured them the favour of the Persian 
monarchs. Though they did not always escape the 
bigotry and jealousy of the Persians, still they usually 
enjoyed equitable protection, and became active 
enemies both of the Greek church and the Roman 
empire, though the geographical position and phy- 
sical configuration of their country, afforded them 
little hope of being able to gain political inde- 

Armenia was favourably situated for maintaining 
its independence, as soon as the Persian and Roman 
empires began to decline. Though the country 
was divided by these rival governments, the people 
had preserved their national character, manners, 
language, and literature, in as great a degree of 
purity as the Greeks themselves ; and as their 
higher classes had retained more of wealth, military 
enterprize, and political independence, than the 
nobility of the other nations of the East, their 
services were very highly estimated by their 
neighbours. Their reputation for fidelity and 
military skill induced the Roman emperors, from 
the time of Justinian, to raise them to the highest 

* Blumhardh. Versuck einer allgemeinen Minion* gtsckichte der Kirche, 
vol. iii. 

t Elmacin says, that the Persians, on their conquest of Edessa, gave up 
all the churches to the Jacobites, who were very numerous. Hist. Sarac. 14. 

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offices in the empire. The Armenians were unable 
to defend their political independence against its 
two powerful enemies ; but even after the Romans 
and Persians had divided their kingdom, they 
maintained their national existence unaltered ; and, 
amidst all the convulsions which have swept over 
the face of Asia, they have continued to exist as a 
distinct people, and succeeded in preserving their 
language and literature. Their national spirit placed 
them in opposition to the Greek church, and they 
adopted the opinions of the Monophysites, though 
under modifications which gave to their church 
a national character, and separated it from that of 
the Jacobites. Their history is worthy of a more 
attentive examination than it has yet met with in 
English literature. Armenia was the first country 
in which Christianity became the established religion 
of the land ; and the people, under the greatest 
difficulties, long maintained their independence 
with the most determined courage; and after the 
loss of their political power, they have defended 
their manners, language, religion, and national 
character with success, against Persians, Greeks, 
Saracens, and Turks * 

Asia Minor had become the chief seat of the 
strength of the Roman empire in the time of 
Heraclius, whereof it was the only portion 
in which the great majority of the popula- 
tion was, at the same time, firmly attached to the 

* M. de Saint Martin, Memoir es Historiques et Gtographiques sur VAr- 
mcnie, 2 vols. Paris, 1818 ; and numerous additions to the edition of Le 
Bead, Hittoire du Bat-Empire, Paris, 1824, &c. 21 tomes, by the same 

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imperial government and to tbe Greek church. 
Before the Persian invasions, during the reign of 
Phocas, it had generally escaped any extensive 
devastation, so that it still retained much of its 
ancient wealth and splendour ; and the social 
life of the people was still modelled on the 
institutions of the preceding ages. A considerable 
internal trade was carried on ; and the great roads, 
being kept in a tolerable state of repair, served as 
arteries for the circulation of commerce and 
civilization. That it had, nevertheless, suffered 
very severely in the general decline, caused by 
over-taxation, and by reduced commerce, neglected 
agriculture, and diminished population, is attested 
by the magnificent ruins of cities destroyed at 
various periods, which lost their municipal liberties, 
and which, during no subsequent prosperity of the 
province, were ever constructed again. 

The power of the central administration over 
its immediate officers, was almost as completely 
destroyed in Asia Minor, as in the more distant 
provinces of the empire. A remarkable proof of 
this general disorganization of the government, is 
found in the history of the early years of the reign 
of Heraclius ; and one deserving particular atten- 
tion, from its illustrating both his personal cha- 
racter, and the state of the empire. Crispus, 
the son-in-law of Phocas, had materially assisted 
Heraclius in obtaining the throne ; and as a recom- 
pense, he received the administration of Cappadocia, 
one of the richest provinces of the empire, along 
with the chief command of the troops in his 

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government.* Crispus, a man of influence, and 
of a daring heedless character, soon ventured to 
act, not only with independence, but even with 
insolence, towards the emperor.f He neglected 
the defence of his province; and when Heraclius 
visited Cesarea, to examine into its state, and 
prepare the means of carrying on the war against 
Persia in person, he displayed a spirit of insubordi- 
nation, and an assumption of importance, which 
amounted to treason. Heraclius, who possessed the 
means of restraining his fiery temperament, visited 
the too powerful officer in his bed, which he kept 
under a slight or affected illness, and persuaded him 
to visit Constantinople. On his appearance in the 
senate, he was arrested, and compelled to become 
a monk. His authority and position rendered it 
absolutely necessary for Heraclius to punish his pre- 
sumption, before he could advance with safety against 
the Persians. Many less important personages, in 
various parts of the empire, acted with equal 
independence, without the emperor's considering 
that it was either necessary to observe, or prudent 
to punish, their ambition. The decline of the 
power of the central government, the increasing 
ignorance of the people, the augmented difficulties 
in the way of communication, and the general 
insecurity of property and life, effected extensive 
changes in the state of society, and threw political 
influence into the hands of the local governors, of the 

* Justinian mentions the wealth and importance of Cappadocia. Novell. 
x. (30.) 

+ His cliaractcr warrants Gibbon's conjecture, that he may have been the 
Priscus who figured in the reign of Maurice. Decline and Folly viii. 26. 

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municipal and provincial chiefs, and of the whole 
body of the clergy. 



Heraclius appears to have formed the plan of 
establishing a permanent barrier in Europe, against 
the encroachments of the Avars and Sclavonians. 
For the furtherance of this project, it was evident that 
he could derive no assistance from the inhabitants 
of the provinces to the south of the Danube. The 
imperial armies, too, which, in the time of Maurice, 
had waged an active war in Illyria and Thrace, and 
frequently invaded the territories of the Avars, had 
melted away, during the disorders of the reign of 
Phocas. The loss was irreparable; for, in Europe, 
no agricultural population remained to supply the 
means of forming a body of local militia, or even a 
large force of irregular troops. The only feasible 
plan, for circumscribing the ravages of the northern 
enemies of the empire, which presented itself, was 
the establishment of powerful colonies, of tribes 
hostile to. the Avars and their eastern Sclavonian 
allies, in the deserted provinces of Dalmatia and 
Illyria. To accomplish this object, Heraclius in- 
duced the Serbs, or western Sclavonians, who 
occupied the country about the Carpathian Moun- 
tains, and who had successfully opposed the exten- 
sion of the Avar empire in that direction, to 
abandon their ancient seats, and move down to the 

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South, into the provinces between the Adriatic and 
the Danube. The Roman and Greek population of 
these provinces had been driven towards the sea 
coast, by the continual hostile incursions of the 
northern tribes, and the desolate plains of the 
interior had been occupied by a few Sclavonian 
subjects and vassals of the Avars. The most 
important of the western Sclavonian tribes who 
moved southward, were the Servians and Croatians, 
who settled in the countries still peopled by 
their descendants. Their original settlements were 
formed in consequence of friendly arrangements 
with Heraclius, and, doubtless, under the sanction 
of an express treaty ; for the Sclavonian people of 
Illyria and Dalmatia long regarded themselves as 
owing a certain degree of territorial allegiance to 
the eastern empire.* 

The measures of Heraclius were carried into 
execution with skill and vigour. From the borders 
of Istria, to the territory of Dyrrachium, the whole 
interior of the country was occupied by a variety of 
tribes of Servian, or western Sclavonic origin, 
hostile to the Avars. These colonies, unlike the 
earlier invaders of the empire, were composed of 
agricultural communities ; and to the facility which 
this circumstance afforded them of adopting into 
their political system any remnant of the old 
Sclavonic population of their conquests, it seems just 
to attribute the permanency and prosperity of their 
settlements. Unlike the military races of Goths, 
Huns, and Avars, who had preceded them, the 

* Const. Porphyr. Ik admin istrando impcrio, c. 31—36. 

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Servian nations increased and flourished in the lands 
which they had colonized ; and by the absorption of 
every relic of the ancient population, they formed 
political communities, and independent states, which 
offered a firm barrier to the Avars and other hostile 
northern nations. 

It may here be observed, that if the original 
population of the countries colonized by the Servian 
nations, had, at an early period, been relieved from 
the weight of the imperial taxes, which en- 
croached on their capital, and from the jealous 
oppression of the Roman government, which pre- 
vented their bearing arms ; in short, if they had 
been allowed to enjoy all the advantages which 
Heraclius was compelled to concede to the Servians, 
we may reasonably suppose that they could have 
successfully defended their country. But, amidst the 
ravages of the Goths, Huns, and Avars, the imperial 
tax-gatherers had never failed to enforce payment 
of the tribute as long as any thing remained unde- 
stroyed, though, according to the rules of justice, the 
Roman government had really forfeited its right to 
levy the taxes, as soon as it failed to perform its 
duty in defending the population. 

The modern history of the eastern shores of the 
Adriatic commences with the relations established 
by Heraclius, with the Servian or western Sclavonic 
nations, and the arrangements which induced them 
to form their settlements within the bounds of the 
eastern empire. Though, in a territorial point of 
view, vassals of the court of Constantinople, these 
colonies always preserved the most complete national 
independence, and formed their own political govern- 

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ments, according to the exigencies of their situation. 
The states which they constituted were of considerable 
weight in the history of Europe ; and the kingdoms, 
or hannats, of Croatia, Servia, Bosnia, Rascia, and 
Dalmatia, occupied for some centuries a political 
position very similar to that now held by the 
secondary monarchical states of the present day. 
The people of Narenta, who enjoyed a republican 
form of government, once disputed the sway of the 
Adriatic with the Venetians ; and, for some time, it 
appeared probable that these Servian colonies esta- 
blished by Heraclius were likely to take a prominent 
part in advancing the progress of European civili- 

But although the ancient provinces of Dalmatia, 
Illyricum, and Moesia, received a new race of inha- 
bitants, and new geographical divisions and names, 
still several fortified towns on the Adriatic continued 
to maintain their immediate connection with the 
imperial government, and preserved their original 
population, augmented by numbers of Roman citi- 
zens, whose wealth enabled them to escape from the 
Avar invasions and gain the coast. These towns long 
supported their municipal independence, by means 
of the commerce which they carried on with Italy, 
and defended themselves against their Servian neigh- 
bours, by the advantages which they derived from the 
vicinity of the numerous islands on the Dalmatian 
coast. For two centuries and a half, they continued, 
though surrounded by Servian tribes, to preserve 
their direct allegiance to the throne of Constantinople, 
until at length, in the reign of Emperor Basil, they 
were compelled to become tributary to their Scla- 

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vonic neighbours.* Ragusa alone was able to secure 
its independence amidst all the vicissitudes of the 
surrounding countries, until its liberty was finally 
destroyed by the French, when the conquests of 
Napoleon annihilated the existence of most of the 
smaller European republics. 

It seems hardly possible that the tribes of western 
Sclavonians, who entered Dalmatia under the various 
names of Servians, Croatians, Narentins, Zachlou- 
mians, Terbounians, Diocleans, and Decatrians, con- 
stituted the whole stock of the population. Their 
numbers could hardly be sufficient to form more 
than the dominant race at the time of their arrival ; 
and, depopulated as the country was, they must have 
found some remains of the primitive Sclavonian 
people, who had inhabited the same countries from 
the earliest periods of history. The remnant of these 
ancient inhabitants would survive the miseries which 
exterminated their masters, and had doubtless 
mingled with the invaders of a kindred race from 
the northern banks of the Danube, who, ever since 
the reign of Justinian, had pushed their incursions 
into the empire. With these people the ruling class 
of Servian Sclavonians would easily unite, without 
violating any national prejudice. The consequence 
was natural ; the various branches of the population 

* A. D. 867—886. Const. Pobphyr. De adm. imp. c 30, (vol. iii. 147, 
ed. Bonn.) The small annual tribute paid by these towns to the eastern 
emperors, and afterwards to the Sclavonian princes, may be considered as 
a proof of their poverty, on the one hand, or of their high value of money, 
and of their virtual independence, on the other. In either case, it is deserving 
of particular attention, as an illustration of the state of society. Aspalathus 
(Spalatra) paid 200 pieces of gold ; Tctrangurium (Trau), Opsara, Arbe, 
Vekla, each 100 ; Jadera, which is represented by the modern Zara, 110 ; 
and Ragusa, for the rural district possessed by its citizens, 72. 

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were soon confounded, and their numbers rapidly 
increased as they melted into one people. The 
Romans, who at one period had formed a large 
portion of the inhabitants of these countries, gra- 
dually died out, while the Illyrians, who were the 
neighbours of the colonies to the south, were ulti- 
mately pushed down on that part of the continent 
formerly occupied by the Greeks. 

From the settlement of the Servian Sclavonians 
within the bounds of the empire, we may therefore 
venture to date the earliest encroachments of the 
Illyrian or Albanian race, on the Hellenic population 
of the south. These Albanians or Arnauts, who are 
now called by themselves Skiptars, are supposed to 
be remains of the great Thracian race, which, under 
the names Getae, Daci, Cimmerians, Phrygians, 
Lydians, Carians, Paionians, Epirots, and Mace- 
donians, take an important part in early Grecian 
history.* No distinct trace of the period at which 
they began to be co-proprietors of Greece with the 
Hellenic race, can be found in history; but it is 
evident, that at whatever time it occurred, the 
earliest Illyrian or Albanian colonists who settled 
among the Greeks, did so as members of the same 
political state, and of the same church; that they 
were influenced by precisely the same feelings and 
interests; and, what is even more remarkable, that 
their intrusion occurred under such circumstances, 
that no national prejudices or local jealousies were 

* The numbers of the Albanian race are at present estimated by Schafarik 
not to exceed one million and a half. The Wallachians, Moldavians, and 
Transylvanians, are composed of a mixture of the Dacian branch of this 
race, with Romans and Sclavonians. — Schaferik, Slaviscke Altherthumer, 
Deutsch, von. M. von. Akhrenfeld, p. 31. 

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excited in the susceptible minds of the Greeks. A 
common calamity of no ordinary magnitude must 
have produced these wonderful effects ; and it seems 
very difficult to trace back the history of the Greek 
nation, without suspecting that the germs of their 
modern condition, like those of their neighbours, are 
to be sought in the singular events w r hich occurred in 
the reign of Heraclius.* 

The power of the Avar monarchy had already 
declined, but the prince or great khakan was still 
acknowledged as suzerain, from the frontiers of 
Bavaria to the Dacian Alps, which bound Transyl- 
vania and the Banuat, and as far as the shores of 
the Black Sea, about the mouth of the Danube. 
The Sclavonian, Bulgarian, and Hunnish tribes, 
which occupied the country between the Danube 
and the Wolga, and who had been the earliest sub- 
jects of the Avars in Europe, had begun to re-assert 
their independence. The actual numerical strength 
of the Avar nation had never been very great, and 
their barbarous government every where thinned the 
original population of the lands which they conquered. 
The remnant of the old inhabitants, driven, by poverty 
and desperation, to abandon all industrious pursuits, 
soon formed bands of robbers, and quickly became as 

• It is to be hoped that some of the learned Greek or German professors 
of the new University of Athens, may soon turn their attention to the 
examination of their modern ethnography. One of their first objects of 
investigation ought to be the history and language of the Albanians. Much 
may be gleaned from a critical inquiry into the language. Does it contain 
words evidently derived from the ancient language of Greece ! Does it also 
contain others adopted after the Greek language had assumed its present 
form 1 Is there nothing in the frame- work of the Albanian language, which 
affords a clue to the period when the Greek words incorporated in it were 
adopted ? These, and many other queries, might be proposed as worthy of 

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warlike and as numerous as the Avar troops stationed 
to awe the district. In a succession of skirmishes 
and desultory engagements, the Avars soon ceased 
to maintain their superiority, and the Avar monarchy 
fell to pieces with nearly as great rapidity as it had 
arisen. Yet, in the reign of Heraclius, the khakan 
could still assemble a variety of tribes under his 
standard, whenever he proposed to make a plunder- 
ing expedition into the provinces of the empire.* 

It seems impossible to decide, from any historical 
evidence, whether the measures adopted by Heraclius 
to circumscribe the Avar power, by the settlement 
of the Servian Sclavonians in Illyria, preceded or 
followed a remarkable act of treachery attempted by 
the Avar monarch against the emperor. If Heraclius 
had then succeeded in terminating his arrangements 
with the Servians, the dread of having their power 
reduced may have appeared to the Avars some 
apology for an attempt at treachery, too base even 
for the ordinary latitude of savage revenge and 
avidity. In the year 619, the Avars made a terrible 
incursion into the heart of the empire. They 
advanced so far into Thrace, that when Heraclius 
proposed a personal meeting with their sovereign, in 
order to arrange the terms of peace, Heraclea, 
(Perinthus,) on the Sea of Marmora, was selected as 
a convenient spot for the interview. The emperor 
advanced as far as Selymbria, accompanied by a 
brilliant train of attendants ; and preparations were 
made to amuse the barbarians with a theatrical 
festival. The avarice of the Avars was excited, and 

* Gboroii PisiDiE BeUum Avaricum, v. 197. 

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their sovereign, thinking that any act by which so 
dangerous an enemy as Heraclius could be removed 
was pardonable, determined to seize the person of 
the emperor, while his troops plundered the imperial 
escort. The great wall was so carelessly guarded, 
that large bodies of Avar soldiers passed it unnoticed 
or unheeded ; but their movements at last awakened 
the suspicion of the court, and Heraclius was com- 
pelled to fly in disguise to Constantinople, leaving 
his tents, his theatre, and his household establish- 
ment, to be pillaged by his treacherous enemies. 
The followers of the emperor were pursued to the 
very walls of the capital, and the crowd assembled 
to grace the festival, became the slaves of the Avars, 
who carried off an immense booty, and two hundred 
and seventy thousand prisoners.* The weakness of 
the empire was such, that Heraclius considered it 
politic to overlook even this insult, and instead of 
attempting to efface the stain on his reputation, 
which his ridiculous flight could not fail to produce, 
he allowed the affair to pass unnoticed. He con- 
tinued to occupy himself in completing the operations 
necessary for attacking Persia, as it was evident, that 
the fate of the Roman empire depended on the 
success of the war in Asia. To secure himself as 
much as possible from any diversion in Europe, he 
condescended to renew his negociations with the 
Avars, and by making many sacrifices, he succeeded 
in concluding a peace on what he vainly hoped 
might prove a lasting basis. 

Several years later, however, when Heraclius was 

4 Nicephorus, De rebus post Mauriciitm gestis, p. 10. 

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absent on the frontiers of Persia, the Avars con- 
sidered the moment favourable for renewing hos- 
tilities, and formed the project of attempting the 
conquest of Constantinople, in conjunction with 
a Persian army, which advanced to the Asiatic 
shore of the Bosporus.* The khakan of the Avars, 
with a powerful army of his own subjects, aided 
by bands of Sclavonians, Bulgarians, and Huns, 
attacked the capital by land, while the Persian 
army endeavoured to afford him every possible 
assistance. Their combined attacks were defeated by 
the garrison of Constantinople, without Heraclius' 
considering it necessary to retrace his steps, or turn 
back from his career of conquest in the East. The 
naval superiority of the Roman government pre- 
vented the junction of its enemies, and the Avars 
were at last compelled to effect a precipitate 
retreat. This siege of Constantinople is the last 
memorable exploit of the Avar nation recorded by 
the Byzantine historians; their power rapidly de- 
clined, and the people soon became so completely 
lost amidst the Sclavonian and Bulgarian inhabi- 
tants of their dominions, that an impenetrable veil 
is now cast over the history of their race and 
language. The Bulgarians, who had already ac- 
quired some degree of power, began to render 
themselves the ruling people among the Hunnish 
nations between the Danube and the Don; and, 
from this time, they appear in history as the most 
dangerous enemies of the Roman empire on its 
northern frontier. 

* A. D. 626. 

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Before TIeraclius commenced the arrangements, 
by which he induced the western Sclavonians to 
settle in Ulvria, numerous bodies of the Avars, and 
the Sclavonic subjects, had already penetrated into 
Greece, and established themselves, even as far 
south as the Peloponnesus.* No very precise 
evidence of the extent to which the Avars suc- 
ceeded in pushing their conquests in Greece, can 
now be obtained ; but there are strong testimonies, 
which establish with certainty, that their Sclavonic 
subjects retained possession of these conquests for 
upwards of two centuries. The political and social 
condition of these Sclavonic colonies on the Hellenic 
soil, utterly escapes the research of the historian; 
but their power and influence in Greece was, for a 
long time, very great. The passages of the Greek 
writers which refer to these conquests are so 
scanty, and so vague in expression, that it becomes 
the duty of the modern historian to pass them in 
review, particularly since it has been maintained, 
with much ability, by a German writer, that " the 
Hellenic race in Europe has been exterminated," 
and that this extermination took place in con- 
sequence of the Sclavonic invasions-! This opinion, 
it is true, has been combated with great learning 
by one of his countrymen, who asserts, that the 
ingenious dissertation of his predecessor is nothing 
more than a plausible theory. J We must attempt 
to examine for ourselves the facts which history 

* Leake's Researches in Greece, 376. Tafel de Thessalonica proleg. lxxviii. 
Ixxxvii. 70. Theophanis Ch. 385. 

t Gischichte der halhinsel Morea wahrend des MiUelaltcrs, von Prof. Fall- 
merayer, preface, and p. 179 — 109. 

J Geschichtc Gricchenbinds, von J. W. Zinkeibkn, p. R37. 

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records, and trace the scanty records of historical 
truth during this dark period. 

The earliest mention of the Avar conquests in 
Greece, occurs in the Ecclesiastical History of 
Evagrius of Epiphania in Coele-Syria, who wrote at 
the end of the sixth century.* He mentions, that 
while the forces of the Emperor Maurice were 
engaged in the East, the Avars advanced to the 
great wall before Constantinople, captured Singidon 
Auchialus, and all Greece, and laid waste every 
thing with fire and sword.f These incursions took 
place in the years 588 and 589, but no inference 
could be drawn, from this vague and incidental 
notice of an Avar plundering incursion so casually 
mentioned, in favour of a permanent settlement of 
the Sclavonians in Greece, had this passage not 
received considerable importance from later autho- 
rities. It must, however, be particularly noticed, 
that Theophylactus Simocatta, who describes the 
wars of the Emperor Maurice with the Avars at 
great length, makes no mention of any Avar expedi- 
tion into Greece. There exists, however, a letter 
of the patriarch of Constantinople, Nicolaus, to the 
Emperor Alexius Comnenus, in the year 1081, 
which confirms the statement of Evagrius in a very 
remarkable way4 The patriarch mentions, that 
the Emperor Nicephones (A. D. 802 — 811) had 

* His history ends with the year 593, and he is supposed to have died not 
long afterwards. 

f Evagrii Hist. Eecles. vi. 10. cum adnotat. Valesii. An inhabitant of 
Syria may be excused for using Greece, as meaning the European portion 
of the empire. The word Romania was not then in existence. Gibbon's 
Decline and Fall, viii. 144. Tafel The$$aloniea prolog. Ixx. Zinkkisen, 
699. Fallmkraykr, i. 185. 

X Lkcnclavics, Jus Gr&eo-Romanuiu, i. 278. 

2 I) 

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granted various concessions to the episcopal see of 
Patras, in consequence of the miraculous aid which 
Saint Andrew had afforded that city in destroying 
the Aval's, who had held possession of the greater 
part of the Peloponnesus for two hundred and 
eighteen years, and had so completely separated 
their conquests from the Roman empire, that no 
Roman (that is to say Greek) dared to enter the 
country. Now this siege of Patras is mentioned by 
Constantino Porphyrogennitas, and its date is fixed 
in the year 807 ; consequently, these Avars, who 
had conquered the Peloponnesus two hundred and 
eighteen years before that event, must have arrived 
precisely in the year 589, at the very period 
indicated by Evagrius.* The Emperor Constantine 
Porphyrogennitas, repeatedly mentions the Sclavonic 
colonies in the Peloponnesus, though he never 
affords any accurate information concerning the 
period at which they entered the country. In his 
work on the provinces of the empire, he informs us, 
that the whole country was subdued, and rendered 
barbarous, after the great plague in the reign of Con- 
stantine Copronymus, an observation which seems 
to imply that the political power of the Sclavonic 
colonies, and their assumption of total independence 
in Greece, arose about that period.f It is evident 
that they acquired great power, and had become an 
object of alarm to the emperors, a few years later. 
In the reign of Constantine the Sixth, an expedition, 
under the command of Stauracius, was sent against 
them, at a time when they possessed great part of 

* Constantinus Porphtr. Dt aim. imp. c. 49. iii. 217. ed. Bonn, 
f A. D. 746. Const. Porphtr. T>e thematibus. ii. c. G. 

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the country, from the frontiers of Macedonia, to the 
southern limits of the Peloponnesus.* Indeed, the 
fortified town and mountain districts alone appear 
to have remained in the possession of the Greeks, f 

It seems surprising, that no detailed account of the 
important change in the condition and fortunes of the 
Greek race, which these facts imply, is contained in 
the Byzantine historians. Yet, when we reflect on 
the probability, that these Sclavonic colonies never 
united into one state, nor pursued any fixed line of 
policy in their attacks on the empire, and when we 
recall to mind also, that the Byzantine historians 
occupied themselves so little with the real history 
of mankind, as to pass over the Lombard invasion 
of Italy without notice, our wonder must cease. It 
must be noticed also, that all the Greek writers who 
mention this period of history, were men connected 
either with the Constantinopolitan government, or 
with the orthodox church ; and that, consequently, 
they were destitute of every feeling of Greek 
nationality, and viewed the inhabitants of Achaea, 
or ancient Hellas, as a rude and degenerate race of 
semibarbarians, little superior to the Sclavonians, 
with whom they were carrying on a desultory but 
mortal warfare. As comparatively little revenue 
could, in the time of Heraclius, be drawn from 
Greece, that emperor never seems to have occupied 
himself about its fate ; and the Greeks escaped the 
extermination with which they were threatened by 

* A. D. 783. Theophanis Ch. 385. See also the Epitome to Strabo, in 
the edition of Almeloveen. Amst. 1707, pp. 1251 — 1261. 

t Joniiuiua maintained itself nlwayn aa a Greek city. Leake's Tratelt in 
Northern Greece, iv. 202. 

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their Avar and Selavonian invaders, in consequence 
of their own resources and exertions, and not from 
any assistance afforded them by the imperial govern- 
ment. The Avars made considerable exertions to 
complete the conquest of Greece, and, attempting to 
carry their predatory expeditions into the Archi- 
pelago, they attacked the eastern coast of Greece, 
which had hitherto been secure from their inva- 
sions. In order to execute this design, they 
obtained shipbuilders from the Lombards, and 
launched a fleet of plundering barks, in the jEgean 
Sea. The general danger of the island, and of the 
commercial cities of Greece, roused the spirit of the 
inhabitants, who united for the defence of their 
property, and the plans of the Avars proved unsuc- 
cessful.* The Greeks, however, were long exposed 
to the plundering Sclavonians on one side, and to 
the rapacity of the imperial government on the 
other ; and their success in preserving some portion 
of their commercial wealth and political influence, 
is a remarkable proof of the excellence of their 
municipal organization. 



The personal character of Heraclius must have 
exercised great influence on the events of his reign. 
Unfortunately, the historians of his age have not 
conveyed to posterity any very accurate picture of 

* Paulus Diaconus, De gaiis Lanpob. iv. 21. Tafel Thetsalomm proleg. 
Ixxiii. lxxix. 

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the peculiar traits of his mind. His conduct shews 
that he possessed judgment, activity, and courage ; 
and though he was sometimes imprudent and rash, 
at others he displayed an equanimity, and force of 
character in repressing his passion, which mark him 
to have been really a great man.* In the opinion 
of his cotemporaries, his fame was sullied by two 
indelible stains. His marriage with his niece Mar- 
tina was regarded as incestuous ; and his attempt to 
impose his own religious opinions on his subjects, as 
the rule of the orthodox faith of the established 
church, branded him as a heretic. Both w r ere per- 
haps errors of policy, in a prince who was so 
dependent on public opinion for- support in his 
great scheme of restoring the lost power of the 
Roman empire ; yet the constancy of his affection 
for his wife, and the immense importance of recon- 
ciling all the adverse sects of Christians within the 
empire, in common measures of defence against 
external enemies, may form some apology for these 
errors. The patriarch of Constantinople remon- 
strated against his marriage with his niece ; but the 
power of the emperor was still absolute over the 
persons of the ecclesiastical functionaries of the 
empire, and Heraclius, though he allowed the 
bishop to satisfy his conscience by stating his objec- 
tions, commanded him to practise his civil duties 

* His cruelty to Phocas only proves, that he partook of the barbarous 
feelings of his age. A religious strain runs through his letters, which are 
preserved in the Patchal Chronicle, and in the speeches reported by 
Theophanes, which have an air of authenticity. It is true, that this style 
may have been adopted as the official language of au emperor, who felt 
himself so peculiarly the head of the Christian church, and the champion of 
tin* orthodox faith. Persia was his ecclesiastical as well as his political 

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and celebrate the marriage of his sovereign. The 
pretensions of papal Rome had not yet arisen in 
the Christian church.* The Patriarch Sergius does 
not appear to have been deficient in zeal or courage, 
and Heraclius was not free from the religious bigotry 
of his age. Both knew that the established church 
Mas a part of the state, and that though, in matters 
of doctrine, the general councils put limits to the 
imperial authority, yet, in the executive direction 
of the clergy, the emperor was nearly absolute, 
and possessed full power to remove the patriarch, 
had he ventured to disobey his orders. As the 
marriage of Heraclius with Martina was within the 
prohibited degrees, it seems to have been an act of 
unlawful compliance on the part of Sergius to cele- 
brate the nuptials, for the duty of the patriarch as a 
priest, was surely, in such a case, of more importance 
than his obedience as a subject. 

The early part of the reign of Heraclius was 
devoted to reforming the administration and recruit- 
ing the army. He tried every means of obtaining 
peace with Persia in vain, and even allowed the 
senate to make an independent attempt to enter 
into negociations with Chosroes.f For tw r elve years, 
the Persian armies ravaged the empire almost with- 
out encountering any opposition, from the banks of 
the Nile to the shores of the Bosporus. It is impos- 

* The power of Gregory the Great was bo small, that he durst not conse- 
crate a bishop without the consent of his enemy the Emperor Maurice ; and 
he was forced to obey the edict forbidding all persons to quit public employ- 
ments in order to become monks, and prohibiting soldiers during the period 
of their service from being received into monasteries. Fleuey, Hist. Ecdf- 
natt. 1. 35, 50 ; 36, 43. 

f Chronicon Paschale, 387. 

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sible to explain in what manner Heraclius employed 
his time during this interval, but it is evident that 
he was engaged by many cares besides those of 
preparing for his war with Persia. The independent 
negociation which the senate attempted with Persia, 
seems to indicate, that the Roman aristocracy had 
succeeded in encroaching on the emperor's authority 
in the general confusion which reigned in the admi- 
nistration ; and that he may have been occupied in 
a political contest at home, before he could attend 
either to the exigencies of the Avar or the Persian 
wars. As no civil hostilities appear to have broken 
out, the circumstance is not recorded in the meagre 
chronicles of his reign. This may perhaps seem a 
random conjecture, which ought not to find a place 
in a historical work ; but when the state of the 
Roman administration at the close of the reign of 
Heraclius, is compared with the confusion in which 
he found it at his accession, it is evident, that he had 
succeeded in effecting a great political change, and 
in infusing new vigour into the weakened fabric of 
the government. 

When Heraclius had settled the internal affairs of 
his empire, filled his military chest, and re-established 
the discipline of the Roman armies, he commenced a 
series of campaigns, which entitle him to rank as one 
of the greatest military commanders whose deeds are 
recorded in history.* The great object which he 

* The industry of Le Beau, the learning of Gibbon, and the sagacity of 
D' Anville, have been employed in illustrating the chronology and geography 
of the campaigns of Heraclius ; but something still requires to be done to 
enable us to follow his steps with certainty, and the labour of a modern scholar 
might be advantageously bestowed on this interesting period. The Persians 
took Ancyra and Rhodes during the first campaign. Elmacin, p. 11. 

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proposed to himself in his first campaign, was to 
render himself master of a line of communications 
extending from the shores of the Black Sea, to those 
of the Mediterranean, and resting on positions in 
Pontus and Cilicia. * The Persian armies, which 
had advanced into Asia Minor, would, by this man- 
oeuvre, be separated from their supplies and rein- 
forcements on their own frontiers, and Heraclius 
had it in his power to attack their troops in detail. 
The rapidity of his movements rendered his plan 
successful ; the Persians were compelled to fight in 
the positions chosen by Heraclius, and were com- 
pletely defeated. In the second campaign, the 
emperor pushed forward into the heart of Persia 
from his camp in Pontus.f Gauzac (Tauris) w r as 
captured ; Thebarmes, the birth-place of Zoroaster, 
with its temple and fire-altars, was destroyed ; and 
it was shewn to the world that the Persian empire 
was in the same state of internal weakness as the 
Roman, and equally incapable of offering any popular 
or national resistance, to an active and enterprising 
enemy. ; The third and fourth campaigns were 
occupied in laborious marches and severe battles, in 
which Heraclius proved himself both a brave soldier 

Abou'lfajudj, Ch. /S'yr. 100. Theophanes (Chron. 253) places their capture 
in the same year as the Avar treason. 

• A. D. 622. f A. D. 623. 

J Gibbon countenances the opinion that Heraclius penetrated as far as 
Ispahan, but this rests on a very doubtful conjecture, viii. 242. In order to 
gain allies against Persia, Heraclius promised his daughter in marriage to the 
son of the king, or chief, of the Khazars, a Turkish tribe who were, for some 
centuries, powerful in the countries between the Black Sea and the Caspian. 
Lb Beau, xi. 115, n. de S. M. 

A senator nf Rome, while Rome survived, 
Would not have match 'd his daughter with a king. 

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and an able general. Under his guidance, the Roman 
troops recovered all their ancient superiority in war. 
The fifth campaign was at first suspended by the diver- 
sion which the Persians effected, in pushing forward 
an army to the shores of the Bosporus, in order to 
assist the Avars in the siege of Constantinople. But 
as soon as Heraclius was assured that the attempt 
on his capital had failed, he hastened to advance 
into the very heart of the Persian empire, and to 
seek his rival in his palace. The sixth campaign 
opened with the Roman army in the plains of 
Assyria ; and, after laying waste some of the richest 
provinces of the Persian empire, Heraclius marched 
through the country to the east of the Tigris, and 
captured the palace of Dastargerd, where the Persian 
monarchs had accumulated the greatest part of their 
enormous treasures, in a position always regarded as 
secure from any foreign enemy. Chosroes fled at 
the approach of the Roman army, and his flight 
became a signal for the rebellion of his generals. 
Heraclius pushed forward to within a few miles of 
Ctesiphon, and then found that his success would be 
more certain by watching the civil dissensions of the 
Persians, than by risking an attack on the populous 
capital of their empire with his diminished army. 
Chosroes was soon seized and murdered by his 
rebellious son Siroes, and a treaty of peace was 
concluded with the Roman emperor. The ancient 
frontiers of the two empires were re-established, and 
the holy cross, which the Persians had carried off 
from Jerusalem, was restored to Heraclius, with the 
seals of the case which contained it unbroken. 
Heraclius had repeatedly declared that he did not 

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desire to make any conquest of the Persian terri- 
tory.* His conduct when success had crowned his 
exertions, and when his enemy was ready to purchase 
his retreat at any price, proves the sincerity and 
justice of his policy. This empire required not only 
a lasting peace to recover from the miseries of the 
late war, but also manv reforms in the civil and 

7 ml 

religious administration, in order to restore the 
vigour of the government. Twenty-four years of 
war, which had proved, in turns, unsuccessful to 
every nation engaged in it, had impoverished 
and diminished the population of a great part of 
Europe and Asia. Public institutions and buildings, 
roads, ports, and commerce, had fallen into decay; 
the physical power of governments had declined ; 
and the utility of a central political authority became 
less and less apparent to mankind. Even the reli- 
gious opinions of the subjects of the Roman and 
Persian empires had been shaken, by the misfortunes 
which had happened to what each sect regarded as 
the talisman of its faith. The ignorant Christians 
viewed the capture of Jerusalem, and the loss of the 
holy cross, as indicating the wrath of heaven and the 
downfall of religion ; and the fire-worshippers con- 
sidered the destruction of Thebarmes, and the 
extinction of the sacred fire, as an irreparable evil, 
and ominous of the annihilation of every good prin- 
ciple on earth. Both the Persians and the Chris- 
tians had so long regarded their faith as a portion of 
the state, and reckoned political and military power 
as the inseparable allies of their ecclesiastical esta- 

• Chronicon P«$chal<yiO\. 

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blishments, that they considered religious misfortune 
as a proof of divine reprobation of their national cause. 
The fame of Heraclius would have rivalled that of 
Alexander, Hannibal, < r Caesar, had he expired at 
Jerusalem, after the successful termination of the 
Persian war. He had established peace throughout 
the empire, restored the organization of the Roman 
government, revived the power of Christianity in the 
East, and replanted the holy cross on Mount Calvary. 
His glory admitted of no addition, but unfortunately, 
his conduct during the succeeding years of his reign 
has, in the general opinion, tarnished his frame. Yet 
these years were devoted to many arduous labours ; 
and it is to the wisdom with which the emperor 
restored the strength of his government during this 
time of peace, that we must attribute the energy of 
the Asiatic Greeks who arrested the great tide of 
Mohammedan conquest, at the foot of Mount 
Taurus. Though the military glory of Heraclius was 
obscured by the brilliant victories of the Saracens, 
still, his civil administration ought to receive its 
meed of praise, when we compare the resistance 
made by the empire which he re-organized, with the 
religious enthusiasts, who extended their conquests, 
with incredible rapidity, from India to Spain. 

The policy of Heraclius was directed to the 
establishment of a bond of union, which would con- 
nect all the provinces of his empire into one body, 
and he hoped to replace the want of national unity 
by identity of religious belief. The church was far 
more closely connected with the people than any 
other institution, and the emperor, as political head 
of the church, hoped to direct a well organized body 

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of churchmen. But Ileraclius engaged in the 
impracticable task of imposing a rule of faith on his 
subjects, without assuming the office, or claiming 
the authority of a prophet or a saint. His measures, 
consequently, like all ecclesiastical and religious 
reforms, which are adopted solely from political 
motives, only produced additional discussions. In 
the year 630, he propounded the doctrine " that in 
Christ, after the union of the two natures, there was 
but one will and one operation." Without gaining 
over any great body of the schismatics whom he 
wished to restore to the communion of the established 
church, by this new rule of faith, he was himself 
generally stigmatized as a heretic. The epithet 
monothelite was applied to him and to his doctrine, 
to shew that neither was orthodox. In the hope of 
putting an end to the disputes which he had rashly 
awakened, he again, in 039, attempted to legislate 
for the church, and published his celebrated Ecthesis, 
which, though it attempts to remedy the effects of 
his prior proceedings, by forbidding all controversy 
on the question of the single or double operation of 
the will in Christ, nevertheless includes a declaration 
in favour of unity.* The bishop of Rome, already 
aspiring after an increase of his spiritual authority, 
though perhaps not yet contemplating the possibility 
of perfect independence, entered actively into the 
opposition excited by the publication of the Ecthesis, 
and was supported by a considerable party in the 
eastern or Greek church, while he directed the 
proceedings of the whole of the western clergy. 

* The Ecthetii is contained in Haiidouin's Concilia, torn. ii. 791. 

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On a careful consideration of the religious position 
of the empire, it cannot appear surprising that 
Heraclius should have endeavoured to reunite the 
Nestorians, Eutychians, and Jacobites, to the esta- 
blished church, particularly when we remember how 
closely the influence of the church was connected 
with the administration of the state, and how com- 
pletely religious passions replaced national feelings, 
in these secondary ages of Christianity. The union 
was an indispensable step to the re-establishment of 
the imperial power, in the provinces of Egypt, Syria, 
Mesopotamia, and Armenia ; and it must not be 
overlooked, that the theological speculations and 
ecclesiastical reforms of Heraclius, were approved of by 
the wisest councillors whom he had been able to select 
to aid him in the government of the empire. The 
state of society required some strong remedy, and 
Heraclius only erred in adopting the plan which had 
always been practically pursued by absolute monarchs, 
namely, that of making the sovereign's opinion the 
rule of conduct for his subjects. We can hardly 
suppose that Heraclius would have succeeded better, 
had he assumed the character, or deserved the vene- 
ration due to a saint. The marked difference which 
existed between the higher and educated classes in 
the East, and the ignorant and superstitious populace, 
rendered it next to impossible, that any line of 
conduct could secure the judgment of the learned, 
and awaken the fanaticism of the people. As a 
farther apology for Heraclius, it may be noticed, that 
his acknowledged power over the orthodox clergy 
was much greater than that which was possessed by 
the Byzantine emperors at a later period, or that 

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which was over admitted by the Latin Church after its 
separation. In spite of all the advantages which he 
possessed, his attempt ended in a most signal failure; 
yet no experience would ever induce his successors 
to avoid his error. His effort to strengthen his 
pow r er, by establishing a principle of unity, aggravated 
all the evils which he intended to cure ; for while the 
Monophysites and the Greeks were as little disposed 
to unite as ever, the authority of the eastern church, 
as a body, was weakened by the creation of a new 
schism, and the incipient divisions between the 
Greeks and the Latins, assuming a national character, 
began to prepare the way for the separation of the 
Greek and Papal churches. 

While Heraclius was endeavouring to restore the 
strength of the empire in the East, by attempting 
to enforce unity of religious views, — the pursuit of 
which has ever been one of the greatest errors of 
the human mind, — Mohammed, by a juster appli- 
cation of the aspiration of mankind after unity, had 
succeeded in uniting Arabia into one state, and in 
persuading it to adopt one religion. The force of 
this new empire of the Saracens was directed against 
those provinces of the Roman empire, which Hera- 
clius had been anxiously endeavouring to reunite in 
spirit to his government. The difficulties of the 
administration of these provinces had compelled the 
emperor to fix his residence for some years in Syria, 
and he was well aware of all the uncertainty of their 
allegiance, before the Saracens commenced their 
invasion.* The successes of the Mohammedan 

** Hn'aclius resided ahn<nt entirely in the East, from A. D. 629, to 634. 

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arms, and the early retreat of the emperor, carrying 
off with him the holy cross from Jerusalem, have 
induced historians to suppose, that his latter years 
were spent in sloth, and marked by weakness.* 
His health, however, was in so precarious a state, 
that he could no longer direct the operations of his 
army in person ; at times, indeed, he was incapable 
of all bodily exertion.f Yet, the resistance which the 
Saracens encountered in Syria, was very different 
from the ease with which it had been overcome by 
the Persians at the commencement of the emperor's 
reign, and attests, that his administration had not 
been without fruit. Many of his reforms could 
only have been effected after the conclusion of the 
Persian war, when he recovered possession of Syria 
and Egypt. He seems, indeed, never to have 
omitted an opportunity of strengthening his posi- 
tion ; and when a chief of the Huns or Bulgarians 
threw off his allegiance to the Avars, Heraclius is 
recorded to have immediately availed himself of the 
opportunity to form an alliance, in order to circum- 
scribe the power of his dangerous northern enemy. 
Unfortunately, few traces can be gleaned from the 
Byzantine writers, of the precise acts by which he 
effected his reforms ; and the most remarkable facts, 
illustrating the political history of the time, must be 
collected from incidental notices, preserved in the 
treatise of the Emperor Constant ine Porphyro- 

* Gibbon, Decline and Folly ix. 418. Le Beau, Histoire du Bas-Empire, 
xi. 173. 

f Nicephorus Capolttanus, 17. Ockley's History of the Saracens, i. 271. 
The idle story of the Arabian historian, mentioned by Ockley, confirms the 
account of the Patriarch Nicephorus, and shews that the health of Heraclius 
had declined before he quitted Syria. 

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gennitas, concerning the administration of the empire, 
written for the instruction of his son Romanus, in 
the middle of the tenth century.* 

Though Heraclius failed in gaining over the 
Syrians and Egyptians, yet he succeeded completely 
in reuniting the Greeks of Asia Minor to his 
government, and in attaching them to the empire. 
His success may be estimated from the failure of 
the Saracens in their attacks on the population of 
this province. The moment the Mohammedan 
armies were compelled to rely on their military skill 
and religious enthusiasm, and were unable to derive 
any profit from the hostile feeling of the inhabitants 
to the imperial government, their career of conquest 
was checked ; and almost a century before Charles 
Martel stopped their progress in the west of Europe, 
the Greeks had arrested their conquests in the 
East, by the steady resistance which they offered 
in Asia Minor. 

The difficulties of Heraclius were very great. The 
Roman armies were still composed of a rebellious 
soldiery collected from many discordant nations ; and 
the only leaders whom the emperor could venture to 
trust with important military commands, were his 
immediate relations, like his brother Theodore and his 
son Constantine, or soldiers of fortune, who could 
not aspire at the imperial dignity, like the Armenian 
general Vahan. f All these commanded in Syria 
against the Saracens at differeut periods. The 

* Published in Banduri Imptrium Orentxale, f«l. Paris, 17H. torn. i. and 
in the third volume of the Bonn edition of the works of Constat) tine Porph. 

t Theophanis Chrnn. 280. Eutychiur, ii. 273. Elmacin, Hiti. 
Sarac. 20. 

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apostacy and treachery of a considerable number of 
the Roman officers in Syria, warranted Heraclius in 
regarding the defence of that province as utterly 
hopeless ; but the meagre and ill-informed historians 
of his reign can hardly be received as conclusive 
authorities, to prove that on his retreat he displayed 
an unseemly despair, or a criminal indifference. 
The feet that he carried the holy cross, which he 
had restored to Jerusalem, along with him to Con- 
stantinople, attests that he had lost all expectation 
of defending the Holy City ; but his exclamation of 
" Farewell, Syria !" was doubtless uttered in the 
bitterness of his heart, on seeing a great part of the 
labours of his life for the restoration of the Roman 
empire utterly vain. The disease which had long 
undermined his constitution, put an end to his life 
about six years after his return to Constantinople. 
He died in March, 641, after one of the most 
remarkable reigns recorded in history, chequered by 
the greatest successes and reverses. During his 
reign, the social condition of mankind underwent 
a considerable change, and the earliest germs of 
modern society began to be formed; yet there is, 
unfortunately, no period of man's annals covered 
with greater obscurity. 



The history of the Greeks who continued to 
inhabit their native European provinces becomes, 
after the reign of Justinian, extremely obscure. Yet 

2 E 

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this period is one of great interest in the history of 
the Hellenic race, which was reduced, like most of 
the other nations around, to struggle hard to escape 
extermination from invaders far inferior in power 
and civilization. It has been already mentioned, 
that the Avar and Sclavonian tribes had penetrated 
into Greece in considerable numbers, and effected 
settlements in many districts, from which they waged 
a perpetual war with the Greeks. Unable to live 
in the state of misery and destitution to which the 
agricultural classes were now reduced in Europe, 
the Greek population confined itself to the towns 
where they could carry on trade or commerce, or to 
those districts which were safe from intrusion. 

The countries to the north of Epirus and Mace- 
donia had always effectually resisted the influence of 
Greek civilization ; and even when the population 
of Greece was increasing with the greatest rapidity, 
and while colonies were multiplied in every land, 
from Sicily to the Tauric Chersonese, the Greeks 
were unable to press back towards the north, the 
population of these countries. Yet these lands have, 
from the earliest times, lain open to constant inva- 
sion and emigration.* In the time of Maurice, the 
language of the Thracians had a much stronger 
resemblance to Latin than to Greek, and indeed 
Latin appears to have mixed more easily than 
Greek, with the native dialects of all the nations on 
the northern limits of the Hellenic race.f But, 

* From the time of the Celts to that of the Turks. Nikbuhr's Kleine 
Schriften, 375. 

+ "Erwos ic»6rpm*<k t*j Tarpeint <pvv5j, ropvet (£oarp. ThEOPHANIS Ch. 218. 

Theophtlacti Sim. ii. 15. This was the language of the Muleteers. 

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though the Greeks, at the height of their power, 
could make no impression on these northern neigh- 
bours, yet, when Greece became depopulated, 
numerous colonies from the north settled in the 
ancient seats of the Hellenic race, and the slave 
population of Attica and Laconia were replaced 
by tribes of Epirot or Albanian peasants, whose 
descendants regarded themselves as the original 
natives of the soil. 

It is impossible to trace with accuracy the effects 
of the depopulation of Greece, and of the poverty of 
the inhabitants. No description could exaggerate 
the sufferings of a country in a similar situation.* 
The slave population, which had formerly laboured 
for the wealthy, had now disappeared, and the free 
labourer had sunk into a serf. The uncultivated 
plains were traversed by armed bands of Sclavo- 
nians, who gradually settled, in great numbers, in 
Thessaly and Macedonia. The cities of Greece 
ceased to receive the usual supplies of agricultural 
produce from the country, and even Thessalonica, 
with its fertile territory and abundant pastures, was 
dependent on foreign importation for relief from 

* Niebuhr thus describes the effects of the wars of Napoleon in Germany : 
" Whole villages have entirely disappeared ; and in many, which are not 
altogether gone, the population is entirely, or almost entirely, destroyed by 
plunder, famine, and disease. The towns, part of which are in ashes, are 
equally desolate ; and every inhabitant is sunk nearly to the same state of 
poverty. Alnioat all the landowners are bankrupt, and there has been a total 
change in the property of the soil — a great misfortune, for the rich who 
spring up out of war and want are sure to be the very worst of their class." 
Lebens nachrichten iiber B. G. Niebuhr, 424. In order to form some idea of 
the state of Greece, add to this picture the difference between a declining and 
advancing state of society, and between the French of the nineteenth century 
and the Aval's and Sclavonians of the seventh. 

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famine.* The smaller cities, destitute of the same 
advantages of situation, would naturally be more 
exposed to depopulation, and sink more rapidly to 
decay. The roads, after the seizure of the local 
funds of the Greek cities by Justinian, were allowed 
to go to ruin, and the transport of provisions by land, 
in a country like Greece, became difficult. This 
neglect of the roads had always been a cause of the 
poverty and barbarism of the mountainous districts 
in the Roman empire, whenever it happened that 
they were not traversed by one of the great military 
lines of communication. 

A complete opposition of feelings and interests 
began to separate the inhabitants of Greece, and the 
Greek population of Constantinople connected with 
the imperial administration, and this circumstance 
warrants us in fixing on the reign of Heraclius as 
the period at which the ancient existence of the 
Hellenic race terminates. It is vain to attempt 
to fix with accuracy the precise time at which the 
ancient usages were allowed, one by one, to expire, 
for no change in social life which is long in progress, 
can be considered as really accomplished, until the 
existence of a new order of things can be distinctly 
pointed out. National transitions can rarely be 
effected in one generation, and are often not com- 
pleted in a century. But when the Byzantine 
writers, after the time of Heraclius, find it necessary 
to make mention of the Greeks of Hellas and Pelo- 
ponnesus, they do so with feelings of aversion. This 

* Tttfcl de Thessalonica tjutque apro. proleg. Ixviii. 

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display of ill will induces us to conjecture that the 
fate of the Greek cities engaged in resisting the 
Sclavonian invaders, had not been very different 
from that of the imperial cities on the Adriatic, and 
that they had been compelled to develop a spirit of 
independence, which had caused a return of pros- 
perity sufficient to awaken the envy of the Byzantine 
Greeks. The manner in which the Byzantine writers 
mention the dwellers in Greece, or Helladikoi, as 
they style them, in order to distinguish these Hellenes 
from the degenerate Romans, as they vainly term 
themselves, seems almost to imply envy as well as 
contempt .* The term Hellenes was now either used 
to indicate the votaries of paganism, or was too 
closely associated with reminiscences of the glory of 
ancient Hellas, to be conferred on the rude Christian 
population of the Peloponnesus, by the educated in 

In the midst of the darkness which conceals the 
political and social condition of the Greeks from 
our view during this period, a curious record of a 
later time informs us, that a portion of the Hellenic 
race, in the mountains of Laconia, still continued to 
preserve its ancient habits, and even clung to the 
pagan religion, f This circumstance supplies the 
strongest testimony of the neglected and secluded 
condition of the people, among whom the ideas of 
the enlightened portion of mankind had not suc- 
ceeded in penetrating. These heathens were, of 

• Theophanis Ch. 339. Cedrenus, i. 454. Tafel de Theualonica prokg. 
lxx. 221.513. 

t Constantini Porpiiyr. Dt adm. imp. c. 50. mil. 224. ed. Bonn. 

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course, only uninstructed peasantry, who had pre- 
served some of the superstitious usages of their 
ancestors, and who, probably, were as ignorant of 
the ideas and feelings of ancient paganism, as they 
were of Christian doctrines. 

The barbarism of the Greeks, at this period, was 
the consequence of their poverty, which prevented 
their procuring the means of education, and re- 
stricted the uses of the knowledge which they might 
possess. In the circumstances to which they were 
reduced, it is not surprising that the Greeks lost all 
veneration both for literature and art, and that 
Greece, for some centuries, hardly furnishes a single 
name, in the long list of Greek writers, whose 
works have been considered worthy of mention. In 
this state of depopulation and ignorance, the relics 
of ancient art began to fall unnoticed to the ground : 
another age covered them with the ruins of the 
buildings which they had once adorned; and thus 
many remained concealed and preserved, until in- 
creasing population, and reviving prosperity, caused 
the reconstruction of new cities on ancient sites. 

It was not in their native seats alone, that 
the Greeks declined in numbers and civilization 
at this period; even their distant colonies were 
rapidly sinking to ruin. During the reign of Justin, 
the city of Bosporus, in Tauris, had been captured 
by the Turks, who then occupied a considerable 
portion of the Tauric Chersonesus.* The city of 
Cherson alone continued to maintain its indepen- 

* foctrpia f Mtnandri hittoria, 404. ed. Bonn. 

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dence in the northern regions of the Black Sea, 
resembling, in its political relation to the empire, 
the cities of Dalmatia, and by its share of the 
northern trade, rivalling the power and influence of 
the barbarian princes in the neighbourhood. 

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The precise date at which the eastern Roman 
empire ceased to exist has been variously fixed. 
Gibbon remarks, " that Tiberius, by the Arabs, and 
Maurice, by the Italians, are distinguished as the 
first of the Greek Caesars, as the founders of a new 
dynasty and empire."* But if manners, language, 
and religion are to decide concerning the com- 

* Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, x. 154. 

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mencement of the Byzantine empire, the preceding 
pages have shewn, that its origin must be carried 
back to an earlier period ; while, if the peculiarities 
of the form of government be taken as the ground 
of decision, the Roman empire may be considered 
as indefinitely prolonged with the existence of the 
title of Roman emperor, which the sovereign of 
Constantinople continued to retain. As long, how- 
ever, as the prejudices of the governing classes, both 
in church and state, kept them completely sepa- 
rated from the national feelings of every race of 
their subjects, and rendered the imperial administra- 
tion, and the people of the empire, two distinct 
bodies, with different, and frequently adverse views 
and interests, some traces of Roman domination, as 
well as policy, continued to animate the govern- 
ment, and guide the councils, of the emperor and 
his officers. The period, therefore, at which the 
Roman empire of the East terminated, is decided 
by the events which confined the authority of the 
government to those provinces where the Greeks 
formed the majority of the population, or, at least, 
where the educated and higher classes were directly 
connected with the imperial administration, from 
the use of the Greek language, the predominance of 
the orthodox church, and the prevalence of Greek 
civilization. For, when the Saracen conquests had 
severed from the empire all those provinces which 
possessed a native population distinct from the 
Greeks, by language, literature, and religion, the 
central government of Constantinople was gradually 
compelled to fall back on the interests and passions 
of the remaining inhabitants, who were chiefly 

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Greeks ; and though Roman principles of administra- 
tion still exercised a powerful influence in separating 
the aristocracy, both in church and state, from the 
body of the people, still public opinion, among the 
educated classes, began to exert some influence on 
the administration, and that public opinion was in 
its character really Greek. Yet, as it was by no 
means identified with the native inhabitants of 
Hellas, but existed among the Greeks of Constanti- 
nople and Asia, it ought correctly to be termed 
Byzantine, and the empire is, consequently, justly 
called the Byzantine empire. As the relics of the 
Macedonian empire at last overpowered every 
trace of the Roman domination in the government 
of the eastern empire, the court of Constantinople 
became identified with the feelings and interests of 
that portion of the Greek nation, which, in Europe 
and Asia, owed its political authority to the Mace- 
donian conquests ; and on the numbers, wealth, and 
power of this class, the emperor and the orthodox 
church were, after the commencement of the eighth 
century, compelled to depend for the defence of the 
government and the Christian religion. 

The difficulty of fixing the precise moment which 
marks the end of the Roman empire, arises from 
the circumstance of its having perished, rather from 
the internal evils nourished in its political organiza- 
tion, than from the attacks of its external enemies. 
Its dissolution was, consequently, so gradual, that 
the new state was created by the transformation of 
the old. The Goths, Huns, Avars, Persians, and 
Saracens, all failed as completely in overthrowing 
the Roman empire, as the Mohammedans did in 

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destroying the Christian religion. For even the 
final loss of Egypt, Syria, and Africa, only marks 
the end of the Roman empire, when the conse- 
quences of the change begin to produce visible 
effects on the internal government. The Roman 
empire seems, therefore, really to have terminated 
with Justinian the Second, the last sovereign of the 
family of Heraclius, (A. D. 711,) and Leo the Third, 
or the Isaurian, who gave the imperial administra- 
tion an ecclesiastical form, must be ranked as the 
first of the Byzantine monarchs, though neither the 
emperor, the clergy, nor the people, perceived, at 
the time, the moral change in their position, which 
makes the establishment of this new era historically 

Under the sway of the Heraclian family, the 
extent of the empire was circumscribed nearly 
within the bounds which it continued to occupy 
during many subsequent centuries. As this dimi- 
nution of territory was chiefly caused by the sepa- 
ration of provinces, inhabited by people of different 
races, manners, and opinions, and placed, by a 
concurrence of circumstances, in opposition to the 
central government, it is not improbable that the 
empire was actually strengthened by the loss. The 
connection between the Constantinopolitan court 
and the Greek nation became closer ; and though 
this connection, in so far as it affected the people, 
was chiefly based on religious, and not on political 
feelings, and operated with greater force on the 
inhabitants of the cities than on the whole body of 
the population, still its effect was extremely bene- 
ficial to the imperial government. 

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While the Roman and Persian empires had, by 
their ruinous wars, rapidly declined in wealth, 
power, and population, two new peoples had grown 
up to the possession of a greatly increased impor- 
tance, and taken their place as arbiters of the fate 
of mankind. The Turks in the north of Asia, and 
the Arabs in the south, were now the most 
numerous, and the most powerful nations, in imme- 
diate contact with the civilized portion of mankind. 
The Turkish power of this time, however, never 
came into direct military relations with the Roman 
empire, nor did the conquests of this race imme- 
diately affect the political and social condition of 
the Greeks, until some centuries later. With the 
Arabs, or Saracens, the case was very different. 
As they were placed on the confines of Syria, Egypt, 
and Persia, the disturbances caused by the wars of 
Heraclius and Chosroes, threw a considerable portion 
of the rich trade with Ethiopia, Southern Africa, 
and India, into their hands. The long hostilities 
between the two empires gave a constant occu- 
pation to the warlike population of Arabia, and 
directed the attention of the Arabs to views of 
extended national policy, at the very time that the 
natural advantages of their unrivalled cavalry were 
augmented by the habits of order and discipline, 
which they could never have acquired in their native 
deserts. The Saracens in the service of the empire, 
are spoken of with praise by Heraclius, in his last 
campaign, when they accompanied him into the 
heart of Persia.* The profits derived from their 

• (hronkon Paschalr, 318. 

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increased commercial and military adventures, had 
doubtless given the Arabs a tendency to increase 
their population. Their intimate connection with 
the Roman and Persian armies had revealed to them 
the weakness of the two empires ; yet the extraor- 
dinary power and conquests of the Arabs must be 
attributed, rather to the moral strength which the 
nation acquired by the influence of their prophet 
Mohammed, than to the extent of their improve- 
ment in military or political knowledge. The 
difference of a declining and an advancing popula- 
tion — of a people which expands all its productions 
and revenues in the cost of living and taxation, like 
the inhabitants of the Persian and Roman empires 
at this period — and of a people which, even from 
small profits and scanty resources, possesses a 
superfluity to spare for hospitality, liberal charity, 
public improvements, or military enterprizes, like 
the Arabs, — must never be lost sight of in weighing 
the relative strength of nations, apparently the 
most widely removed in wealth, population, and in 
the extent of their military establishments. 



Strange as were the vicissitudes in the fortunes 
of the Persian and Roman empires during the reigns 
of Chosroes and Heraclius, every event in their 
records sinks into comparative insignificance, from 
the mighty influence which their contemporary, 

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Mohammed, the prophet of Arabia, soon began to 
exercise on the political, moral, and religious con- 
dition of the countries, whose possession these 
sovereigns had so eagerly disputed. Historians are 
apt to be enticed from their immediate subject, in 
order to contemplate the personal history of a man 
who obtained so marvellous a dominion over the 
minds and actions of his followers; and whose 
talents laid the foundations of a political and 
religious system, which has ever since continued to 
govern millions of mankind, of various races, and 
dissimilar manners. The success of Mohammed 
as a lawgiver, among the most ancient nations of 
Asia, and the stability of his institutions during a 
long series of generations, and in every condition of 
social polity, prove that this extraordinary man was 
formed by a rare combination of the qualities both of 
a Lycurgus and an Alexander. But still, in order 
to appreciate with perfect justness the influence of 
Mohammed on his own times, it is safer to examine 
the history of his contemporaries with reference to 
his conduct, than to fix our attention exclusively on 
his actions and opinions, and to trace from them 
the exploits of his followers, and attribute to them 
the rapid propagation of his religion. Even though 
it be admitted that Mohammed laid the foundations 
of his laws in the strongest principles of human 
nature, and prepared the fabric of his empire with 
the profoundest wisdom, still there can be no doubt, 
that the intelligence of no man could, during his 
lifetime, have foreseen, and no human combinations 
could have ensured, the extraordinary success of his 
followers. The laws which govern the moral world 

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ensure permanent success, even to the greatest 
minds, only as long as they form types of the mental 
feelings of their fellow-creatures. The circum- 
stances of Mohammed's age were, indeed, favourable 
to his career; they formed the mind of this 
wonderful man, who has left their impress, as well 
as that of his own character, on succeeding genera- 
tions. He was born at a period of visible intellectual 
decline amongst the aristocratic and governing 
classes throughout the civilized world. Aspirations 
after something better than the then social condi- 
tion of the bulk of mankind, had rendered the 
inhabitants of almost every country dissatisfied with 
the existing order of things. A better religion 
than the paganism of the Arabs was felt to be 
necessary in Arabia; and, at the same time, even 
the people of Persia, Syria, and Egypt, required 
something more satisfactory to their religious 
feelings than the disputed doctrines which the 
Magi, Jews, and Christians, inculcated as the most 
important features of their respective religions, 
merely because they presented the points of greatest 
dissimilarity. The great success of Mani in pro- 
pagating a new religion, (for Manicheism cannot 
properly be called a heresy,) is a strong testimony 
of this feeling. The fate, too, of the Manieheans, 
would probably have foreshadowed that of the 
Mohammedans, had the religion of Mohammed not 
presented to foreign nations a national cause, as 
well as a universal creed. Had Mohammed himself 
met with the fate of Mani, it is not probable that 
his religion could have been more successful than 
that of his predecessor. But he found a whole 

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nation in the full tide of rapid improvement, eagerly 
in search of knowledge and power. The excite- 
ment in the public mind of Arabia, which produced 
the mission of Mohammed, induced many other 
prophets to make their appearance during his 
lifetime. His superior talents, and his clearer 
perception of justice, and, we may say, truth, 
destroyed all their schemes.* 

The misfortunes of the times had directed public 
opinion in the East, to a belief that unity was the 
thing principally wanting to cure the existing evils, 
and secure the permanent happiness of mankind. 
This vague desire of unity is indeed no uncommon 
delusion of the human intellect. Mohammed seized 
the idea ; his creed, " there is but one God," was 
a truth that ensured universal assent ; the addition, 
"and Mohammed is the prophet of God," was a 
simple fact, which, if doubted, admitted of an appeal 
to the sword, an argument that even to the minds 
of the Christian world, was long considered as 
conclusive. The principle of unity was soon em- 
bodied in the frame of Arabic society ; the unity of 
God, the national unity of the Arabs, and the unity 
of the religious, civil, judicial, and military adminis- 
tration, in one organ on earth, entitled the Moham- 
medans to assume, with justice, the name of 
Unitarians, a title in which they particularly 
gloried, f Such sentiments, joined to the decla- 
ration made, and long kept by the Saracens, that 
liberty of conscience was granted to all who would 

* Ockley's Hist, of the Saracens, i. 13. ed. 1757. Sale's Koran, prel. 
disc. i. 238. Gibbon's Decline and Fall, ix. 355. 
f Ock ley's Hist, of the Saracens, i. 197. 

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put themselves under the protection of Islam, were 
enough to secure the good will of that numerous 
body of the population of both the Persian and the 
Roman empires, which was opposed to the state 
religion, and which was continually exposed to 
persecution by these two bigoted governments. In 
Persia, Chosroes persecuted the orthodox Christians 
with as much cruelty as Heraclius tormented Jews 
and heretics within the bounds of the empire.* 
The ability with which Mohammed put forward his 
creed, removed it entirely from the schools* of 
theology, and secured among the people a secret 
feeling in favour of its justice, particularly when its 
votaries appeared as offering a refuge to the 
oppressed, and a protection against religious per- 

As this work only proposes to notice the influence 
of Mohammedanism on the fortunes and condition 
of the Greek nation, it is not necessary to narrate 
in detail the progress of the Arab conquests in the 
Roman empire. The first hostilities between the 
followers of Mohammed and the Roman troops, 
occurred while Heraclius was at Jerusalem, engaged 
in celebrating the restoration of the holy cross, 
bearing it on his own shoulders up Mount Calvary, 
and persecuting the Jews by driving them out of 
their native city.f In his desire to obtain the 
favour of Heaven by purifying the Holy City, he 
overlooked the danger which his authority might 

* Theophanis Chron. 252. Elmacin, Hist. Sarac. p. 12. 14. 

f The holy cross was replaced in the Church of the Resurrection on the 
14th September, 629. In tlie month of Djoumadi I. in the eighth year of 
the Hegira, (September, 629,) war broke out between the Christian subjects 
of the empire, and the Saracens, followers of Mohammed. 

2 F 

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incur from the hatred and despair of his persecuted 
subjects. The military operations of the Arabs 
excited little alarm in the minds of the emperor 

and his officers in Syria : the Roman forces had 

•> 7 

always been accustomed to repel the incursions of 
the Saracens with ease ; the irregular cavalry of 
the desert, though often successful in plundering 
incursions, had hitherto proved ineffective against 
the regularly disciplined and completely armed 
troops of the empire. But a new spirit was now 
infused into the Arabian armies ; and the implicit 
obedience which the troops of the Prophet paid to 
his commands, rendered their discipline as superior 
to that of the imperial forces, as their tactics and 
their arms were inferior. 

Mohammed did not live to profit by the expe- 
rience which his followers gained in their first 
struggle with the Romans ; but as soon as Aboubekr 
had succeeded him in the government of Arabia, 
the Saracens undertook the invasion of Syria. In 
633, an army of Arabs entered the province, and 
their progress was rapid, although Heraclius himself 
was in the neighbourhood, for he generally resided 
at Emesa, or Antioch, in order to devote his 
constant attention to restoring Syria to a state of 
order and obedience. The imperial troops made 
considerable efforts to support the military renown 
of the Roman armies, but were almost univer- 
sally unsuccessful. The emperor did not neglect 
his duty ; he assembled all the troops that he could 
collect, and intrusted the command of the army to 
his brother Theodore, who had distinguished himself 
in the Persian w r ars, by gaining an important victory 

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in very critical circumstances.* Vahan, who com- 
manded after Theodore, had also distinguished 
himself in the last glorious campaign in Persia.f 
Unfortunately, the health of Heraclius prevented 
his taking the field in person. X The absence of 
all moral checks in the Roman administration, and 
the total want of patriotism in the officers and 
troops at this period, rendered the personal influence 
of the emperor necessary, even at the head of his 
armies, in order to preserve due subordination, and 
enforce union among the leading men in the empire, 
as each individual was always more occupied in 
intriguing to get the advantage over his colleagues, 
than in striving to advance the service of the state. 
The ready obedience and devoted patriotism of the 
Saracens formed a sad contrast to the insubordina- 
tion and treachery of the Romans, and would fully 
explain the success of the Mohammedan arms, 
without the assistance of any very extraordinary 
impulse of religious zeal, with which, however, 
there can be no doubt the Arabs were deeply 
imbued. The facility of the conquest of Syria by 
the Arabs, is by no means so wonderful as the ease 
with which they maintained their conquest, and 
the tranquillity of the population under their 

In the first campaign, Bostra, a rich frontier town, 
was taken by the treachery of its commandant ; in 
the second, the emperor's brother, Theodore, was 
defeated ; and in a subsequent battle at Adjnadin, 

* Theophanis Cliron. 263. 

t Ibid. 265 ; either in the year 634 or 636. 


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the Roman general Vartan shared the same fate. 
A rebellion of Vartan's army, and another defeat, 
terminated this general's career;* and before the 
conclusion of the campaign, the Arabs captured 
Damascus, in consequence of a capitulation with 
the inhabitants, which left the Christians in pos- 
session of some municipal rights, particularly of 
the great church, and of their local mint. The 
misfortunes of this campaign are said to have 
induced Heraclius to retreat to Constantinople. 
His son, Heraclius Constantine, who had received 
the imperial title, having been proclaimed Augustus 
in the year of his birth, continued to assist in the 
defence of the province, and to aid the military 
operations by his presence.! Th e third campaign is 
remarkable, as it illustrates the feelings of the 
Syrian population. The Arabs plundered a great 
fair at the monastery of Abilkodos, about thirty 
miles from Damascus; and the Syrian towns, 
alarmed for their wealth, and indifferent to the 
cause of their rulers, began to negotiate the purchase 
of separate truces with the Arabs. Indeed, where- 
ever the imperial garrison was not sufficient to 
overawe the inhabitants, the native Syrians sought 
to make any arrangement with the Arabs which 
would ensure their towns from plunder, feeling 
satisfied that the Arab authorities could not use 

* Ockley, (i. 70,) names this general Werdan, and says he was slain at 
the battle of Adjuadin. Theophanes (Chro*. p. 280,) calls him Vahan, 
(BmAwf) and mentions the rebellion of his army. Eutychius, (ii. 276,) says, 
he retired from the field of battle, and became a monk at Mount Sinai. 

+ Nicephorus Constant! if opolitanus, p. 7. Thkophanis Chron. 251. 
Ockley's Arabian authorities confounded the young Heraclius with his father. 
See p. 271, where the father is spoken of when he could not be in Syria, and 
the son is mentioned at p. 282. 

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their power with greater rapacity and cruelty than 
the imperial officers. Emesa, (Hems,) Chalcis, 
(Kinesrim,) Arethusa, (Restan,) Epiphanea, (Hama,) 
Larissa, (Schizar,) and Heliopolis, (Baalbec,) all 
entered into treaties, which led to their becoming 
tributary to the Saracens. No general arrange- 
ments, either for defence or submission, were 
adopted by the Christians, whose ideas of political 
union had been utterly extinguished by the Roman 
power, and who were now satisfied if they could 
preserve their lives and properties, without seeking 
any guarantee for the future. The Romans soon 
assembled another powerful army, which was com- 
manded by an Armenian general named Vahan, 
who was totally defeated, and taken prisoner in a 
battle fought near the River Yermouk.* In the 
following year, A. D. 637, the Arabs advanced to 
Jerusalem, and the surrender of the Holy City was 
marked by arrangements between the Patriarch 
Sophronius, and the Caliph Omar, who repaired in 
person to Palestine, to take possession of so dis- 
tinguished a conquest. The conditions of the 
capitulation indicate that the Christian patriarch 
looked rather to the protection of his own bishoprick, 
than to his duty to his country and his sovereign. 
The facility with which the Greek patriarch of 
Jerusalem, Sophronius, at this time, and the 

* Theophanes (Chron. p. 280) speaks of Vahan defeated at Yermouk, 
as the same person who commanded in the second campaign, and whom Use 
Arabian historian distinguishes. This Vahan is called Mahan by Ockley, 
i. 192. Ockley's conjecture that Manuel was meant, has been copied in tlie 
Universal History, and by Le Beau. Both Vartan and Vahan are Armenian 
names. Manuel, who subsequently commanded in Egypt, was also an 
Armenian. Le Beau, llistoire du Bat- Empire, xi. notes de Saint Martin, 

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patriarch of Constantinople, Gennedius, at the time 
of the conquest of the Byzantine empire by 
Mohammed the Second, (A. D. 1453,) became the 
ministers of their Mohammedan conquerors, shews 
the slight hold which national feelings retained over 
the minds of the orthodox Greek clergy.* It appears 
strange that Sophronius, who w T as the head of a 
Greek and Melchite congregation, living in the 
midst of a numerous and hostile Jacobite population, 
should have so readily consented to abandon his 
connection with the Greek empire and the orthodox 
church, when both religion and policy seemed so 
strongly to demand greater firmness ; and on this 
very account, his conduct must be admitted to afford 
evidence of the humanity and good faith with which 
the early Mohammedans were believed to fulfil 
their promises.! The conquest of Aleppo soon 
followed that of Jerusalem. In 638, the conquest 
of Syria was completed by the defeat of Constantine, 
and the capture of Antioch, Cesarea, and most of 
the maritime cities — Constantine having abandoned 
the struggle, and retired to join his father in 

The Arab conquest not only put an end to the 
political power of the Romans, which had lasted 
seven hundred years, but it also soon rooted out every 

* The Greek patriarchs of this age did little honour to their religion. 
Pyrrhus, patriarch of Constantinople, when banished after the death of 
Heraclius, is accused of renouncing his Mnnothelite opinions in orthodox 
Africa, and of making a public abjuration of them at Rome before the Pope 
Theodore. Yet when he visited Ravenna, he as publicly returned to his 
Monothelite belief. 

f The violence with which Sophronius had opposed the opinions of the 
Mono thelites, may have induced him to confound treason with orthodoxy. 
Actg, Sanctorum, torn. ii. 65. 

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trace of the Greek civilization introduced by the 
conquests of Alexander the Great, and which had 
flourished in the country for upwards of nine cen- 
turies.* A considerable number of native Syrians 
however, endeavoured to preserve their independence, 
and retreated into the fastnesses of Mount Libanon, 
where they continued to defend themselves. Under 
the name of Marda'ites, tlrey soon became formidable 
to the Mohammedans, and for some time checked the 
power of the caliphs in Syria, and by the diversions 
which they made whenever the arms of the Arabs were 
employed in Asia Minor, they contributed to arrest 
their progress.! The year after Syria was subdued, 
Mesopotamia was invaded, and proved an easy 
conquest ; as its governors, and the inhabitants of 
its cities, displayed the same facilities shewn by 
the Syrians in entering into treaties with the 
Mohammedans. $ 

As soon as the Arabs had completed the conquest 
of Syria, they invaded Egypt. The national and 
religious hostility which prevailed between the native 
population and the Greek colonists, ensured the 
Mohammedans a welcome from the Egyptians ; but 
at the same time, this very circumstanee excited the 
Greeks to make the most determined resistance. 
The Patriarch Cyrus had adopted the Monothelite 
opinions of his sovereign, and this rendered his 

* Pompey expelled Antioclius B. C. 65. Alexander the Great conquered 
Syria B. C. 331. 

f The Mardaites are supposed by some to be the ancestors of the 
Maronitcs. Tukopiianis Chron. 295. 300. Asseman. Biblioth. Orient. Vat. 
torn. i. 496. 

X Theophanis Chron. 202. The governors of Osi-Iincne and Edessa 
both proved traitors. 

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position uneasy amidst the orthodox Greeks of 
Alexandria. Anxious to avert any disturbance in 
the province, he conceived the idea of purchasing 
peace for Egypt from the Saracens, by paying them 
an annual tribute, and he entered into negotiations 
for this purpose, in which Mokaukas, who remained 
at the head of the fiscal department, joined him. 
The Emperor Ileraclius, informed of this intrigue, 
sent an Armenian governor, Manuel, with a body 
of troops, to defend the province, and ordered the 
negotiations to be broken off. The fortune of the 
Arabs again prevailed, and the Roman army was 
defeated. Amron, the Saracen general, laid siege 
to Misr, or Babylon, the chief native city of Egypt, 
and the seat of the provincial administration. The 
treachery or patriotism of Mokaukas, for his posi- 
tion warrants either supposition, induced him to 
join the Arabs, and assist them in capturing the 
town.* A capitulation was concluded, by which 
the native Egyptians retained possession of all their 
property, and enjoyed the free exercise of their 
religion as Jacobites, on paying a tribute of two 
pieces of gold for every male inhabitant. If the 
accounts of historians can be relied on, it would 
seem that the population of Egypt had suffered less 
from the vicious administration of the Roman em- 
pire, and from the Persian invasion, than any other 
part of their dominions ; for about the time of its 
conquest by the Romans it contained seven millions 
and a half, exclusive of Alexandria, and it still 

* Ockley calls Mokaukas the prefect of Heraclius, of the sect of the 
Jacobites, and a mortal enemy of the Greeks. Eutychius, ii. 302, is his 

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nourished almost as great a number.* This fact is 
by no means surprising, for the most active cause of 
the depopulation of the Roman empire arose from the 
neglect of all those accessories of civilization, which 
facilitate the distribution and circulation as well as 
the production of the necessaries of life.f From 
neglect of this kind, Egypt had suffered little, as the 
natural advantages of the soil and the physical con- 
formation of the country, intersected by one mighty 
river, had compensated for the supineness of its 
rulers. The Nile was the great road of the pro- 
vince, and nature kept it in sufficient repair during 
the greater part of its course. When its waters 
were separated over the Delta, they became a 
valuable property to corporations and individuals, 
whose rights the Roman law respected, and whose 
interests and wealth were sufficient to keep in repair 
the canals of irrigation ; so that the vested capital 
of Egypt suffered little diminution, while war and 
oppression annihilated the accumulations of ages 
over the rest of the world. The immense wealth and 
importance of Alexandria, the only port which Egypt 
possessed for communicating with the empire, still 
made it one of the first cities in the universe for 
riches and population, though its strength had 
received a severe blow by the Persian conquest.^ 

* Josephus, B. J. ii. 16. vol. v. 206. Whiston's translation. Eutychius 
(ii. 31 1 ) says, that those registered for the tribute amounted to 6,000,000. He 
seems to confound this with the whole number of the native population. 

t Strabo says the revenue of Egypt under Ptolemy Auletes was about two 
and a half millions sterling, and double under the Romans. In 1566, it 
yielded the Turks only L.l 50,000.— Dr Vincknt, ii. 60. 

t The Emperor Hadrian was struck by the commercial activity of Alex- 
andria. " Ci vitas in qua nemo vivat otiosus." Hist. Aug, Scrip. 2-15. 

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The great wealth of Egypt, during this period, 
had been due, in a considerable degree, to the 
existence of the canal which connected the waters 
of the Nile with the Red Sea, which, by giving an 
additional vent to the agricultural produce of the 
province, materially contributed to maintain its 
immense population.* This canal, in its most im- 
proved state, commencing at Babylon, and ending 
at Arsinac, (Suez,) was navigable for nearly six 
months every year. It was used for large and 
bulky commodities, for which land carriage would 
have proved either impracticable, or too expensive. 
By means of it, Trajan transported, from the quarries 
to the sea, the columns and vases of granite and 
porphyry, with which he adorned Rome.f This 
canal may have been neglected during the troubles 
in the reigns of Phocas and Heraclius, while the 
Persians occupied the country ; but it was in such a 
state of preservation, as to require but slight repairs 
from the earlier caliphs. \ The carelessness of the 
Arab government, however, soon allowed it to fell 
into decay, and it was filled up by Al Manzor, 
A. D. 702—767.$ 

As soon as the Arabs had settled the affairs of 
the native population, they laid siege to Alexandria. 
This city made a vigorous defence, and Heraclius 

* Herodotus, Diodorus, and Strabo, saw this canal in operation. Herod. 
ii. 158. Diod. i. 33. 83. Strabo, 1. 17. See also Plinii, Hid. Nat. vi. 
29. Plutarch's Life of Antony, s. 82. Lucian, Pseud omant, g. 44. 

f Strabo, xvii. 788. 804. Ptalom. Geog. iv. 5. p. 108. It was called, 
after Trajan's repairs, Tgaiisw *ar*fi.if. 

X Eusebius, Hiit. Eee. viii. c. 8. Paul. Silent. Disc. Sanctas Sophia. 
i. v. 379, 625. 

§ Le Beau, Histoire du Box-Empire, xi. 300. NoU$ de S. M. Notice$ 
de$ Manuscrits Arabes, par L angles, torn. vi. 334. 

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exerted himself to succour it ; but though it held 
out for fourteen months, it was at last taken by the 
Arabs, who placed in it a feeble garrison. The 
Roman troops, watching an opportunity for renew- 
ing the war, again recovered the city, and massacred 
the Mohammedans, but were soon compelled to 
retire to their ships, and make their escape. This 
conquest is said to have cost the Arabs twenty-three 
thousand men, and they used their success like rude 
barbarians, destroying the libraries and works of 
art * In less than five years, (A. D. 646,) a Roman 
army, sent by the Emperor Constans, under the 
command of Manuel, again recovered possession of 
Alexandria, by the assistance of the Greek inhabi- 
tants, who had remained in the place when it was 
taken by the Arabs ; but the Mohammedans soon 
appeared before the city, and, with the assistance of 
the Egyptians, compelled the imperial troops to 
abandon their conquest.f The walls of Alexandria 
were thrown down, the Greek population driven 
out, and the commercial importance of the city 
destroyed. Thus perished one of the most remark- 
able colonies of the Greek nation, and one of the 
most renowned seats of that Greek civilization of 
which Alexander the Great had laid the foundations 
in the East, after having flourished, in the highest 
degree of prosperity, for nearly a thousand years.:): 

* Gibbon, in his account of the destruction of the great Alexandrian 
library, deprecates the injury which literature sustained, ix. 438, note. 

t Eutychius, 2. 339. Ocklby, i. 325. 

X Alexandria was founded B. C. 332. After the conquest of Egypt 
by the Saracens, the Egyptian or Coptic language began to give way to the 
Arabic. This followed, because the numl*ers of the Copts were gradually 
reduced by the oppressive government of their new masters, until they 
formed a minority of the population. 

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The conquest of Cyrcnaica followed the subjuga- 
tion of Egypt as an immediate consequence. The 
Greeks are said to have planted their first colonies 
in this country six hundred and thirty-one years 
before the Christian era,* and twelve centuries of 
uninterrupted possession appear to have constituted 
them the perpetual tenants of the soil ; but the 
Arabs were very different masters from the Romans, 
and under their domination, the Greek race soon 
became extinct in Africa. It is not necessary here to 
follow the Saracens in their farther conquests west- 
ward. The people with whom they had to contend 
w T ere Latin, and not Greek, in the western provinces ; 
they were attached to the Roman government, 
though often disgusted by the tyranny of the 
emperors; and, consequently, they defended them- 
selves with far more courage and obstinacy than the 
Syrians and Egyptians. The war was marked by 
considerable vicissitudes, and it was not till the 
year 698, that Carthage fell permanently into the 
hands of the Saracens, who, according to their usual 
barbarous policy, destroyed the walls, and ruined 
the public buildings, in order to destroy every poli- 
tical trace of Roman government in Africa. The 
Saracens were singularly successful in all their pro- 
jects of destruction ; in a short time, both Latin 
and Greek civilization was exterminated on the 
southern shores of the Mediterranean. 

It may be observed, that the success of the 
Mohammedan religion, under the earlier caliphs, 
did not keep pace with the progress of the Arab 

♦ Clinton's Fasti UelUnlei, i. 204. 

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arms. Of all the native population of the countries 
subdued, the Arabs of Syria alone appear to have 
immediately adopted the new religion of their 
co-national race ; but the great mass of the Chris- 
tians in Syria, Mesopotamia, Egypt, Cyrenaica, and 
Africa, clung firmly to their faith ; and the decline 
of Christianity, in all these countries, is to be attri- 
buted rather to the extermination than to the 
conversion of the Christian inhabitants. The de- 
crease in the number of the Christians, was 
invariably attended by a decrease in the numbers 
of the inhabitants, and arose evidently from the 
oppressive treatment which they suffered under the 
Mohammedan rulers of these countries, — a system 
of tyranny which was, at last, carried so far, as to 
reduce whole provinces to unpeopled deserts, ready 
to receive an Arab population, almost in a savage 
state, as the successors of the exterminated Chris- 
tians. It was only, indeed, when Mohammedanism 
presented its system of unity, in opposition to the 
evident falsity of idolatry, or to the unintelligible 
discussions of a fanciful theology, that the human 
mind was easily led away by its religious doctrines, 
which addressed the passions of mankind rather too 
palpably to be secure of commanding their reason. 
The earliest Mohammedan conversions of foreign 
races, were made among the subjects of Persia, who 
mingled native or provincial superstitions with the 
Magian faith ; and among the Christians of Nubia, 
and the interior of Africa, whose religion may have 
departed very far from the pure doctrines of Chris- 
tianity. The success of the Mohammedans was 
generally confined to barbarous and ignorant con- 

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verts ; and the more civilized people retained their 
faith as long as they could secure their national 
existence. This fixct deserves to be carefully con- 
trasted with the progress of Christianity, which 
usually indicated au immediate advance in the scale 
of civilization. Yet the peculiar causes which 
enabled the Christians of the seventh and eighth 
centuries, in the ignorant and debased mental con- 
dition into which they had fallen, to resist steadily 
the attacks of Mohammedanism, and to prefer 
extinction to apostacy, deserve a more accurate 
investigation than they have yet met with from 

The construction of the political government of 
the Saracen empire was far more imperfect than 
the creed of the Mohammedans, and shews that 
Mohammed had neither contemplated extensive 
foreign conquests, nor devoted the energies of his 
powerful mind to the consideration of the questions 
of administration which would arise out of the 
difficult task of ruling a numerous and wealthy 
population, possessed of property, but deprived of 
civil rights. No attempt was made to arrange 
any systematic form of political government, and 
the whole power of the state was vested in the 
hands of the chief priest of the religion, who was 
only answerable for the due exercise of this extra- 
ordinary power, to God, his own conscience, and his 
subjects' patience. The moment, therefore, that 
the responsibility created by national feelings, 
military companionship, and exalted enthusiasm, 
ceased to operate on the minds of the caliphs, the 
administration became far more oppressive than 

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that of the Roman empire. No local magistrates 
elected by the people, and no parish priests, 
connected by their feelings and interests both with 
their superiors and inferiors, bound society together 
by common ties ; and no system of legal adminis- 
tration, independent of the military and financial 
authorities, preserved the property of the people 
from the rapacity of the government. Socially and 
politically, the Saracen empire was little better than 
the Gothic, Hunnish, and Avar monarchies ; and 
that it proved more durable, with almost equal 
oppression, is to be attributed to the powerful 
enthusiasm of Mohammed's religion, which tempered 
for some time its avarice and tyranny. 

Even the military successes of the Arabs are to 
be ascribed, in some measure, to accidental causes, 
over which they themselves exercised no control. 
Their enthusiasm was more powerful than the 
courage of the Roman troops; and their strict 
obedience to their leaders compensated, in a great 
degree, for their inferiority in arms and tactics.* 
But in a long war, it would have been seen, as it 
really proved, that the military qualities of the 
Roman armies were more lasting than those of the 
Arabs. The important and rapid conquests of the 
Arabs in the empire were assisted by the religious 
dissensions and national antipathies, which placed 
the great bulk of the people of Syria, Mesopotamia, 
and Egypt, in hostility to the Roman arms, and 
neutralized many of the advantages which, from 

* Ocklet's Iliit.oftke Saraeem, i. 85. The Greeks (Roman troops) were 
completely armed ; the Arabs were almost without defensive armour until 
they had obtained the arms of the Greeks by conquest 

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their superior military skill, they might have derived 
amidst a favourable population. The Roman govern- 
ment had to encounter the excited energies of the 
Arabs, at a moment, too, when its resources were 
exhausted, and its strength weakened by a long war 
with Persia, which, with the loss of many provinces, 
had, for several years, totally destroyed the central 
executive administration, and enabled numerous 
chiefs to acquire an almost independent authority. 
These chiefs were generally destitute of every 
feeling of patriotism ; their conduct was entirely 
directed by ambition and interest, and they sought 
only to secure themselves in the possession of the 
districts which they governed. The example of 
Mokaukas in Egypt, and of Youkinna at Aleppo, 
are remarkable instances of the power and treason- 
able disposition of many of these imperial officers. 
But almost every governor in Syria displayed equal 
faithlessness.* Yet, in spite of the treason of some 
officers, and the submission of others, the defence of 
Syria does not appear to have been, on the whole, 
disgraceful to the Roman army ; and the Saracens 
purchased their conquest by severe fighting, and at 
the cost of much blood. An anecdote mentioned 
in the History of the Saracens, f shews that the 
importance of order and discipline was not over- 
looked by Khaled, the Sword of God, as he was 
styled by his admiring countrymen ; and that his 
great success was owing to military skill, as well as 

* Mansour, the governor of Damascus. Eutychius, ii. 281. Bostra, 
Eraesa, Kinnisrin, and Aleppo. Ockley, i. 156 — 162. The citizens of 
Baalbec. Ockley, i. 179. 

t Ockley, i. 70. 

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religious enthusiasm and fiery valour. " Mead," 
says the historian, " encouraged the Saracens with 
the hopes of Paradise, and the enjoyment of ever- 
lasting life, if they fought for the cause of God and 
religion. * Softly,' said Khaled, * let me get them 
into good order before you set them upon fight- 
ing.' "* Under all the disadvantages mentioned, 
it is not surprising that the hostile feelings of a 
numerous and wealthy portion of the Syrian 
community, engaged in trade, and willing to 
purchase peace at any reasonable sacrifice, should 
have turned the scale against the Romans. The 
struggle became doubtful, from the moment that 
the people of Emesa, and the neighbouring cities, 
could venture to conclude truces with the Saracens, 
merely for the purpose of securing their own 
property, and without any reference to the general 
interests of the province, or the military plans of 
defence of the Roman government Yet one of the 
chiefs, who held a portion of the coast of Phoenicia, 
succeeded in maintaining his independence against 
the whole power of the Saracens, and formed, in 
the mountains of Libanon, a small Christian 
principality, of which the town of Byblos (Djobail) 
was the capital. Round this nucleus, the Mardai'tes, 
or native Syrians, appear to have rallied in con- 
siderable force. 

The great influence exercised by the patriarchs of 
Jerusalem and Alexandria, over the administration 
in their provinces, tended also to weaken and dis- 
tract the measures adopted for the defence of these 

* A similar anecdote is told of Cromwell, who once addressed his troops, 
u Put your trust in the Lord, and keep your powder dry." 

2 G 

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countries. Their willingness to treat and negotiate 
with the Arabs, who were resolved only to be 
satisfied with conquest, placed the Roman armies 
and government in a disadvantageous position. 
Where the chances of war are nearly balanced, the 
good will of the people will eventually decide the 
contest in favour of the party that they espouse. 
Now, there is strong reason to believe, that the great 
majority of the subjects of the Roman empire, in 
the provinces which were conquered during the 
reign of Heraclius, were the well-wishers of the 
Arabs ; and that they fancied they were sufficiently 
guaranteed against the oppression of their new 
masters, by the rigid observance of justice which 
characterized all their earlier acts. A temporary 
advantage of diminished tribute, or the escape from 
some oppressive act of administration, induced them 
to compromise their religious position and their 
national independence. The fault is too natural a 
one to be severely blamed ; for of religious liberty 
the age had no just conception, and the Syrians and 
Egyptians had been slaves for far too many centuries, 
to be impressed with any idea of the sacrifices which 
a nation ought to make, in order to secure its inde- 
pendence. The moral tone adopted by the Caliph 
Aboubekr, in his instructions to the Syrian army, 
was also so unlike the principles of the Roman 
government, that it must have commanded profound 
attention from a subject people. " Be just," said 
the proclamation of Aboubekr, " the unjust never 
prosper ; be valiant, die rather than yield ; be 
merciful, slay neither old men, children, nor women. 
Destroy neither fruit-trees, grain, nor cattle ; keep 

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your word, even to your enemies ; molest not those 
men who live retired from the world, but compel 
the rest of mankind to become Mussulmans, or to 
pay us tribute, — if they refuse these terms, slay 
them." Such a proclamation, announced to the 
Jews and heterodox Christians, sentiments of justice, 
and principles of toleration, which neither the 
Roman emperors nor the orthodox bishops had ever 
adopted as the rule of their conduct. Add to this 
remarkable document, the effect produced by the 
wonderfiil spectacle of the Caliph Omar riding into 
Jerusalem, on the camel which carried all the 
baggage and provisions which he required for his 
journey from Mecca, and the deep impression which 
such things must have produced on the minds of 
an oppressed people, could only tend to imbitter 
their hatred towards their ancient masters. Had, 
therefore, the Saracens been able to unite a system 
of judicial legislation and administration, and of 
elective local and municipal governments, for their 
conquered subjects, with the vigour of their own cen- 
tral power, and the religious monarchy of their own 
national government, it is difficult to conceive that 
any limits could ultimately have been opposed to 
their authority, by the then existing states into 
which the world was divided.* 

But the political policy of the Saracens was of 

* The fanaticism which is usually made the reproach of the early 
Mohammedans, is correct only when applied to later times. Even the 
fire-worshippers of Persia, who were idolaters in the eyes of the Saracens, 
and did not worship the true God, were, by their principles of toleration, 
allowed the exercise of their religion on paying tribute, a fact proved by 
several passages in the Arabian historians. UeUr Arabiich Byzantinische 
Miinzen, von. Curt Boze, p. 16. von. Hammer, p. 80. 

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itself utterly barbarous, and it only caught a passing 
gleam of justice from the religious feeling of their 
prophet's doctrines. A remarkable feature of the 
policy by which they maintained their power over 
the provinces which they conquered, ought not to be 
overlooked, as it illustrates both the inherent bar- 
barism of their ideas, and the low state of their 
social civilization. They generally destroyed the 
walls of the cities which they subdued ; and whenever 
commercial cities of any eminence offered peculiar 
facilities for foreign invasion, or possessed a native 
population active and bold enough to threaten 
danger from rebellion, such cities were either 
destroyed or weakened, and the administration was 
transferred from the old cities to new capitals, 
founded where a convenient military station for 
overawing the country could be safely established. 
Thus Alexandria, Babylon or Misr, Carthage, 
Ctesiphon, and Babylon, were destroyed, and Fostat, 
Kairowan, Cufk, Bussora, and Bagdat, rose to 
supplant them. 



After the death of Heraclius, the short reigns of 
his sons, Constantine the Third, and Heracleonas, 
were disturbed by court intrigues, and the disorders 
which naturally result from the want of a settled 
law of succession. In such conjunctures, the 
people and the courtiers learn alike to traffic in 
sedition. Before the termination of the year in 

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which Heraclius died, (A. D. 641,) his grandson, 
Constans the Second, mounted the imperial throne 
at the age of eleven, in consequence of the death of 
his father Constantine, and the dethronement of his 
uncle Heracleonas. An oration made by the young 
prince to the senate after his accession, in which he 
invoked the aid of that body, and spoke of their 
power in terms of reverence, warrants the con- 
clusion, that the aristocracy had again recovered all 
their influence over the imperial administration ; 
and that, though the emperor's authority was still 
held to be absolute by the constitution of the empire, 
it was really controlled by the influence of the 
aristocracy not holding ministerial offices.* 

Constans grew up to be a man of considerable 
abilities, and of an energetic character, but possessed 
of violent passions, and destitute of all the amiable 
feelings of humanity. The early part of his reign, 
during which the imperial ministers were controlled 
by the selfish aristocracy, was marked by the loss of 
several portions of the empire. The Lombards 
conquered all the coast of Italy from the maritime 
Alps to the frontiers of Tuscany ; and the exarch of 
Ravenna was defeated with considerable loss near 
Modena; but still the Lombards were unable to 
make any serious impression on the exarchate. 
Armenia was compelled to pay tribute to the 
Saracens. Cyprus was rendered tributary to the 
caliph, though the amount of the tribute imposed 
was only seven thousand two hundred pieces of 
gold — half of what it had previously paid to the 

• Chron. 284. 

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emperor. It is certain that this sum must have 
formed but a small portion of the whole revenues 
paid by the island to the Roman government. If 
there be no error in the authors who report the 
amount, it must have constituted either some peculiar 
payment to the imperial treasury, or else the sum 
for which the customs were farmed. It contrasts 
strangely with the large payments made by single 
cities for a year's truce in Syria, and the immense 
wealth found by the Arabs in Syria, Egypt, Persia, 
and Africa.* The commercial town of Aradus, in 
Syria, had hitherto resisted the Saracens, from the 
strength of its insular position. It w r as now taken 
and destroyed. In a subsequent expedition of the 
Saracens, Cos was taken by the treachery of its 
bishop, and the city plundered and laid waste. 
Rhodes was then attacked and captured. This last 
conquest is memorable for the destruction of the 
celebrated Colossus, which, though it fell about 
fifty-six years after its erection, had been always, 
even in its prostrate condition, regarded as one of 
the wonders of the world. The admiration of the 
Greeks and Romans had protected it from destruc- 
tion for nine centuries. The Arabs, to whom works 
of art possessed no value, broke it in pieces, and 
sold the bronze, which is said to have loaded nine 
hundred and eighty camels. 

• The governor of Jushiyah paid 4000 pieces of gold, and fifty pieces of 
silk, for a year's truce. Ockley, i. 150. Hems paid 10,000 pieces of gold, 
and 200 pieces of silk. P. 154. Baalbec, 2000 ounces of gold, 4000 of silver, 
and 2000 pieces of silk. P. 177. Kinnisrin and Alhadir, 5000 ounces of 
gold, as many of silver, and 2000 vests of silk. P. 233. The tribute of 
Egypt was two pieces of gold a head. Eutychius, ii. 308. The accounts of 
the weal tli of Ctesiphon are almost incredible, and those of Sufetula in 
By zacene completely »o. Le Beau, Hittoire du Bat-Empire, vol. xi. 313, 329. 

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As soon as Constans was old enough to assume 
the direction of public business, the two great 
objects of his policy were the establishment of the 
absolute power of the emperor over the orthodox 
church, and the recovery of the lost provinces of the 
empire. With the view of obtaining and securing 
a perfect control over the ecclesiastical affairs of his 
dominions, he published an edict, called the Type, 
in the year 648, when he was only eighteen years 
old.* It was prepared by Paul, the patriarch of 
Constantinople, and was intended to terminate the 
disputes produced by the ecthesis of Heraclius. All 
parties were commanded by the type to observe a 
profound silence on the previous quarrels concerning 
the will and operation in Christ. Liberty of con- 
science was an idea almost unknown to any but the 
Mohammedans, so that Constans never thought of 
appealing to any such right; and no party in the 
Christian church was inclined to waive its orthodox 
authority of enforcing its own opinions on others. 
The Latin church, led by the bishop of Rome, was 
always ready to oppose the Greek clergy, who 
enjoyed the favour of the imperial court, and this 
jealousy engaged the pope in violent opposition to 
the type. But the bishop of Rome was not then 
so powerftd as the popes became at a subsequent 
period, so that he durst not attempt directly to 
question the authority of the emperor in regulating 
such matters. Perhaps it appeared to him hardly 
prudent to rouse the passions of a young prince of 
eighteen, who might prove not very bigoted in his, 

* The Type is contained in Hardwin's Concilia, torn. i. p. 834. 

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attachment to any party, as indeed the provisions of 
the type seemed to indicate. The Pope Theodore, 
therefore, directed the whole of his ecclesiastical 
fury against the patriarch of Constantinople, whom 
he excommunicated with circumstances of singular 
and impressive violence. He descended with his 
clergy into the dark tomb of Saint Peter in the 
Vatican, now under the centre of the dome in the 
vault of the great cathedral of Christendom, conse- 
crated the sacred cup, and, having dipped his pen 
into the blood of Christ, he signed an act of excom- 
munication, condemning a brother bishop to the 
pains of hell. To this indecent proceeding, Paul 
the Patriarch replied by persuading the emperor to 
persecute the clergy who adhered to the pope's 
opinion, in a more regular and legal manner, by 
depriving them of their temporalities, and condem- 
ning them to banishment. The pope was supported 
by nearly the whole body of the Latin clergy, and 
even by a considerable party in the East ; yet, when 
Martin, the successor of Theodore, ventured to 
anathematize the ecthesis and the type, he was 
seized by order of Constans, conveyed to Constanti- 
nople, tried, and condemned on a charge of having 
supported the rebellion of the Exarch Olympius, 
and of having remitted money to the Saracens. The 
emperor, at the intercession of the Patriarch Paul, 
commuted his punishment to exile, and the pope 
died in banishment at Cherson in Tauris. Though 
Constans could not succeed in inculcating his doc- 
trines on the clergy, he completely succeeded in 
enforcing public obedience to his decrees in the 
church, and the fullest acknowledgment of his 

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supreme power over the persons of the clergy. 
These disputes, however, between the heads of the 
ecclesiastical administration of the Greek and Latin 
churches, afforded an excellent pretext for widening 
the breach between them, which had its real origin 
in national feelings and clerical interests, and was 
only augmented by the difficult and not very intel- 
ligible distinctions of monothelitism. Constans him- 
self, by his vigour and personal activity in this 
struggle, incurred the bitter hatred of a large por- 
tion of the clergy, and his conduct has been unques- 
tionably the object of much misrepresentation and 

The attention of Constans to ecclesiastical affairs 
induced him to visit Armenia, where his attempts to 
unite the people to his government by regulating 
the affairs of their church, were as unsuccessful as 
his religious interference elsewhere. Dissensions 
were increased ; one of the imperial officers of high 
rank rebelled ; and the Saracens availed themselves 
of this state of things to invade both Armenia and 
Cappadocia, and succeeded in rendering several 
districts tributary. The increasing power of Moa- 
wyah, the Arab general, induced him to form a 
project for the conquest of Constantinople, and he 
began to fit out a great naval expedition at Tripoli 
in Syria. A daring enterprise of two brothers, 
Christian inhabitants of the place, rendered the expe- 
dition abortive. These two Tripolitans and their 
partizans broke open the prisons in which the Roman 
captives were confined, and, placing themselves at 
the head of an armed band which they had hastily 
formed, seized the city, slew the governor, and burnt 

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the fleet. A second armament was at length prepared 
by the energy of Moawyah, and as it was reported 
to be directed against Constantinople, the Emperor 
Constans took upon himself the command of his own 
fleet. He met the Saracen expedition off Mount 
Phoenix in Lycia, and attacked it with great vigour. 
Twenty thousand Romans are said to have perished 
in the battle ;* and the emperor himself owed his 
safety to the valour of one of the Tripolitan brothers, 
whose gallant defence of the imperial galley enabled 
the emperor to escape before its valiant defender 
was slain, and the vessel fell into the hands of the 
Saracens. The emperor retired to Constantinople, 
but the hostile fleet had suffered too much to 
attempt any farther operations, and the expedition 
was abandoned for that year. The death of Othman, 
and the pretensions of Moawyah to the caliphate, 
(A. D. 655,) began to withdraw the attention of the 
Arabs from the empire. Constans then turned his 
forces against the Sclavonians, in order to deliver 
the European provinces from their ravages. They 
were totally defeated, many were carried off as 
slaves, and the rest compelled to submit to the 
imperial authority. No certain grounds exist for 
determining whether this expedition was directed 
against the Sclavonians, who had established them- 
selves between the Danube and Mount Hsemus, or 
against those who had settled in Macedonia ; yet, the 
circumstance of no town's being mentioned in the 
accounts of the campaign, seems to indicate that it 
is more probable that the people subdued were the 

* Abou'lfajladj, Chron, Syr. p. 111. 

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Sclavonians beyond Mount Haemus, who were sub- 
sequently conquered by the Bulgarians.* 

As the affairs of the European provinces, in the 
vicinity of the capital, were now tranquillized, Con- 
stans again prepared to engage the Arabs; and 
Moawyah, having need of all the forces he could 
command for his contest with Ali, the son-in-law of 
Mohammed, consented to make peace, in terms 
which contrast curiously with the perpetual defeats 
which Constans is always represented, by the ortho- 
dox historians of the empire, to have suffered. The 
Saracens engaged to confine their forces within 
Syria and Mesopotamia, and Moawyah consented to 
pay Constans, for the cessation of hostilities, the sum 
of a thousand pieces of silver, and to furnish him 
with a slave and a horse for every day during which 
the peace should continue. A. D. 659. 

During the subsequent year, Constans condemned 
to death his brother Theodosius, whom he had com- 
pelled to enter the priesthood. The cause of this 
crime, or the pretext for it, is not mentioned. From 
this brother's hand, the emperor had often received 
the sacrament ; and the fratricide is supposed to 
have rendered a residence at Constantinople insup- 
portable to the conscience of the criminal, who was 
reported nightly to behold the spectre of his brother 
offering him the consecrated cup, filled with human 
blood, and exclaiming, " Drink, brother !" Certain it 
is, that two years after his brother's death, Constans 
quitted his capital, with the intention of never 
returning ; and he was only prevented, by an insur- 

* Theophanis Ch. pp. 288 — 299. Zinkeisen, i. 733. Ta/el Thetsalonica, 

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rection of the people, from carrying off the empress 
and his children. He meditated the reconquest of 
Italy from the Lombards, and proposed rendering 
Rome again the seat of empire. On his way to 
Italy, the emperor spent the winter at Athens ; he 
was attended by a numerous suite, and a consider- 
able body of troops ; and the selection of Athens for 
the winter quarters of the expedition, affords strong 
evidence of the tranquil, flourishing, and populous 
condition of the city and country around. It is 
evident, that the Sclavonian colonies in Greece 
must, at this time, have owned the most perfect 
allegiance to the imperial power, or Constans would 
certainly have employed himself in reducing them 
to subjection. In the spring of the year 633, 
Constans landed with his forces at Tarentum, and 
having assembled an army, he attempted to take 
Beneventum, the chief seat of the Lombard power 
in the south of Italy. His troops were twice de- 
feated, and all his projects of conquests were then 

The emperor himself repaired to Rome. His 
visit lasted only a fortnight. According to the 
writers who describe the event, he consecrated twelve 
days to religious ceremonies and processions, and 
the remaining two he devoted to plundering the 
wealth of the church. His personal acquaintance 
with the affairs of Italy, and the state of Rome, 
soon convinced him, that the eternal city was iD 
adapted for the capital of the empire, and he 
quitted it for Sicily, where he fixed on Syracuse for 
his future residence. Grimoald, the able monarch 
of the Lombards, and his son Romuald, the Duke 

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of Beneventum, continued the war in Italy with 
vigour. Brundusium and Tarentum were captured, 
and the Romans expelled from Calabria, so that 
Otranto and Gallipoli were the only towns on the 
eastern coast of which Constans retained possession. 
When residing in Sicily, Constans directed his 
attention to the state of Africa. His measures are 
not detailed with precision, but were evidently 
distinguished by the usual energy and caprice which 
marked his whole conduct. He recovered possession 
of Carthage, and of several cities which the Arabs 
had rendered tributary ; but he displeased the inha- 
bitants of the province, by compelling them to pay 
to himself the same amount of tribute as they had 
agreed by treaty to pay to the Saracens; and as 
Constans could not expel the Saracen forces from 
the province, the amount of the public taxes of the 
Africans was thus doubled, — since both parties were 
able to levy the contributions which they demanded. 
Moawyah sent an army from Syria, and Constans 
one from Sicily, to decide who should become sole 
master of the country. A battle was fought near 
Tripoli, and though the army of Constans consisted 
of thirty thousand men, it was completely defeated. 
Yet the victorious army of the Saracens was unable 
to take the small town of Geloula, (Usula,) until the 
accidental fall of a portion of the ramparts laid it 
open to their assault ; and this trifling conquest was 
followed by no farther success. In the East, the 
empire was equally exposed to danger, yet the 
enemies of Constans were eventually unsuccessful 
in their projects. In consequence of the rebellion 
of the Armenian troops, whose commander, Sapor, 

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assumed the title of emperor, the Saracens made a 
successful incursion into Asia Minor; the city of 
Amorium, in Phrygia, was captured, and the Saracens 
placed in it a garrison of five thousand men. The 
imperial general, however, appointed by Constans, 
soon drove out this powerful garrison, and recovered 
the place. 

It appears, therefore, that in spite of all the defeats 
which Constans is reported to have suffered, the 
empire underwent no very sensible diminution of its 
territory during his reign, and he certainly left its 
military forces in a more efficient condition than he 
found them. He was assassinated, in a bath at 
Syracuse, by an officer of his household, in the year 
668, at the age of thirty-eight, after a reign of 
twenty-seven years. The fact of his having been 
murdered by one of his own household, joined to the 
appearance of capricious violence that marked many 
of his public acts, warrants the supposition that his 
character was of the unamiable and unsteady nature, 
which rendered the accusation of fratricide, so 
readily believed by his cotemporaries, by no means 
impossible. It must, however, be admitted, that 
the occurrences of his reign afford irrefragable 
testimony, that his heretical opinions have induced 
orthodox historians to give an erroneous notion of 
many circumstances, since the undoubted results do 
not correspond with their descriptions of the passing 

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Constantine the Fourth, called Pogonatus, or the 
Bearded, has been regarded by posterity with a high 
degree of favour. Yet his merit seems to have con- 
sisted in his superior orthodoxy, rather than in his 
superior talents as emperor. The concessions which 
he made to the see of Rome, and the moderation 
that he displayed in all ecclesiastical affairs, placed 
his conduct in strong contrast with the stern energy 
with which his father had enforced the subjection of 
the orthodox ecclesiastics to the civil power, and 
gained for him the praise of the priesthood, whose 
eulogies have exerted no inconsiderable influence on 
all historians. Constantine, however, was certainly 
an intelligent and just prince, who, though he did 
not possess the stubborn determination and great 
talents of his father, was destitute also of his violent 
passions and imprudent character. 

As soon as Constantine was informed of the 
murder of his father, and that a rebel had assumed 
the purple in Sicily, he hastened thither in person 
to avenge his death, and extinguish the rebellion. 
To satisfy his vengeance, the Patrician Justinian, 
a man of high character, compromised in the re- 
bellion, was treated with great severity, and his 
son Germanos with a degree of inhumanity, that 
would have been recorded by the clergy against 

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Constans, as an instance of the grossest barbarity.* 
The return of the emperor to Constantinople was 
signalized by a singular sedition of the troops in Asia 
Minor. They marched towards the capital, and 
having encamped on the Asiatic shores of the 
Bosporus, demanded that Constantine should admit 
his two brothers, on whom he had conferred the 
rank of Augustus, to an equal share in the public 
administration, in order that the Holy Trinity 
in heaven, which governs the spiritual world, 
might be represented by a human trinity, to govern 
the political empire of the Christians. The very 
proposal is a proof of the complete supremacy of the 
civil over the ecclesiastical authority, in the eyes of 
the people, and the strongest evidence that in the 
public opinion of the age, the emperor was regarded 
as the head of the church. Such reasoning as the 
rebels used could be rebutted by no arguments, and 
Constantine had energy enough to hang the leaders 
of the sedition, and sufficient moderation not to 
molest his brothers. But several years later, either 
from increased suspicions, or from some intrigues on 
their part, he deprived them of the rank of Augustus, 
and condemned them to have their noses cut off.f 
(A.D. 681.) The condemnation of his brother to 
death by Constans, figures in history as one of the 
blackest crimes of humanity, while the barbarity of 

* This Germanoa, notwithstanding his mutilation by Constantine, became 
bishop of Cyzicus, and joined the Monothelites in the reign of Philippicus. 
He retracted, and was made patriarch of Constantinople by Anastasins the 
Second, (A. D. 715,) and figured as an active defender of images against Leo 
the Third, the Isaurian. 

t Thkophanis Ckron. pp. 293. 300. 

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the orthodox Constantine, is passed over as a lawful 
act. Both rest on the same authority, on the testi- 
mony of Theophanes, the earliest Greek chronicler, 
and both may really have been acts of justice 
necessary for the security of the throne, and the 
tranquillity of the empire. Constans was a man of 
a violent temper, and Constantine of a mild dispo- 
sition; both may have been equally just, but both 
were, without doubt, unnecessarily severe. A 
brother's crimes could never merit a greater pun- 
ishment from a brother, than seclusion in a 

The great object of the imperial policy at this 
period, was to oppose the progress of the Moham- 
medans. Constans, indeed, had succeeded in arresting 
their conquests, but Constantine soon found that 
they would give the empire no rest, unless he could 
secure it by his victories. He had hardly quitted 
Sicily, in order to return to Constantinople, before 
an Arab expedition from Alexandria invaded the 
island, and stormed the city of Syracuse, where the 
Saracens having plundered all the treasures accumu- 
lated by Constans, immediately abandoned the place. 
In Africa the war was continued with various suc- 
cess, but the Christians were long left without any 
succours from Constantine, while Moawyah supplied 
the Saracens with strong reinforcements. In spite 
of the courage and enthusiasm of the Mohammedans, 
the native Christian population maintained their 
ground with firmness, and carried on the war with 
such vigour, that in the year 676, a native African 
leader, who commanded the united forces of the 
Romans and Berbers, captured the newly founded 

2 H 

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city of Kairowan, which at a subsequent period 
became renowned as the capital of the Fatimite 

The ambition of the Caliph Moawyah, induced 
him to aspire at the conquest of the Roman empire ; 
and the military organization of the Arabian power, 
which enabled the caliph to direct the whole 
resources of his dominions to any single object of 
conquest, seemed to promise success to the enter- 
prise. A powerful expedition was sent to besiege 
Constantinople. The time required for the prepara- 
tion of such an armament did not enable the 
Saracens to arrive at the capital, without passing a 
winter on the coast of Asia Minor, and on their 
arrival in the spring of the year 673, they found 
that the emperor had made every preparation for 
defence. Their forces, however, were so numerous, 
that they were sufficient to invest Constantinople by 
sea and land. The troops occupied the whole of the 
land side of the triangle on which the city is con- 
structed, while the fleet effectually blockaded the 
port. The Saracens failed in all their assaults, both 
by sea and land, and the Romans attributed their 
own success principally to the use of the celebrated 
Greek fire, which was invented shortly before this 
siege, and was first used on this occasion.! The 
military art had declined during the preceding 
centuries, as rapidly as every other branch of 
scientific culture ; and the resources of the mighty 

* Kairowan was founded by Akbah, in 670 ; taken by the Christians in 
676 ; recovered by the Arabs under Zohair ; but retaken by the Christians, 
in 688 ; and finally conquered by Hassan, in 697. 

+ For au account of the Greek fire, see the Articles CaUinieus, (vi. 551.) 
and Marcus Gnrcus, (xxvi. 623.) in the Biographie Univtrntlle. 

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empire of the Arabs were so limited, from the 
ignorance and bad administration of its rulers, that 
the caliph, during the winter, was unable to maintain 
his forces before Constantinople, The Saracen army, 
in order to pass this season in the neighbourhood, 
that it might renew its attack on the capital the 
ensuing summer, occupied Cyzicus, whither it went 
into winter quarters at the end of autumn. This 
strange mode of besieging cities, unattempted since 
the times the Dorians had invaded Peloponnesus, 
was continued for seven years ; but, in this warfare, 
the Saracens suffered far more severely than the 
Romans, and were at last compelled to abandon 
their enterprise.* The land forces tried to 
effect their retreat through Asia Minor, but were 
entirely cut off in the attempt; and a tempest 
destroyed the greater part of the fleet, off the coast 
of Pamphylia. During the time that this great 
body of his forces was employed against Constants 
nople, Moawyah sent a division of his troops to 
invade Crete, which had been visited by a Saracen 
army in 651. The island was now compelled to 
pay tribute, but the inhabitants were treated with 
great mildness, as it was the policy of the caliph at 
this time, to conciliate the good opinion of the 
Christians, by his liberal government, in order to 
pave the way for future conquests. Moawyah 
carried his religious tolerance so far, as to rebuild 

• Daring the aiege of Constantinople, Abou Ayoub, who had received 
Mohammed into his house, on his flight to Medina, died ; and the celebrated 
mosque of Ayoub, in which the sultan, on his accession, receives the investi. 
tore of the sword, is said to mark the spot where he was buried. 

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the church of Edessa, at the intercession of his 
Christian subjects. 

The destruction of the Saracen expedition against 
Constantinople, and the advantage which the moun- 
taineers of Libanon had contrived to take of the 
absence of the Arab troops, by carrying their incur- 
sions into the plains of Syria, convinced Moawyah of 
the necessity of peace. The hardy mountaineers of 
Libanon, called Mardaites, had been increased in 
numbers, and supplied with wealth, in consequence 
of the retreat into their country of a mass of native 
Syrians* who had fled before the Arabs.* They 
consisted chiefly of Melchites and Monothelites, and 
on that account they had adhered to the cause of the 
Roman empire when the Monophysites joined the 
Saracens. Their Syrian origin renders it probable 
that they were the ancestors of the Maronites, though 
the desire of some modern Maronite historians to 
shew that their countrymen were always perfectly 
orthodox, has perplexed a question which of itself 
was by no means of easy solution.! The political 
state of the empire required peace ; and the ortho- 
dox Constantine did not feel personally inclined to 
run any risk in order to protect the Monothelite 
Mardaites. Peace was concluded between the 
emperor and the caliph in the year 679, Moawyah 
consenting to pay the Romans annually three thou- 

* The earliest mention of the Mardaites is found in Theophanis Chron. 
p. 295. 

t Mosheim's Ecclesiastical History, with notes by James Murdock, D.D. 
Newiiaven, 1832. 3 vols. 8vo. vol. i. 538. This American edition of 
Moaheim is greatly superior to the old translation, and the noU-a are 

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sand pounds of gold, fifty slaves, and fifty Arabian 
horses. It appears strange that a prince possess- 
ing the power and resources at the command of 
Moawyah, should submit to these conditions ; but 
the fact affords proof that policy, not pride, was the 
rule of the caliph's conduct, and that the advance- 
ment of his real power, and of the interests of the 
Mohammedan religion, were of more consequence 
in his eyes, than any fanciful notions of etiquette 
and dignity. 

Moawyah had been induced, by the situation of 
his affairs, to purchase peace by consenting to pay 
tribute to the Roman emperor ; Constantine himself 
was compelled to become tributary to a small horde 
of Bulgarians. One of the usual emigrations which 
take place amongst barbarous nations, had induced 
Asparuch, a Bulgarian chief, to seize the low country 
about the mouth of the Danube; his power and 
activity induced the Emperor Constantine to take 
the field against these Bulgarians in person. The 
expedition was so ill conducted, that it ended in the 
complete defeat of the Roman army, while the Bul- 
garians subdued all the country between the Danube 
and Mount Hsemus, compelling a district inhabited 
by a body of Sclavonians called the seven tribes, to 
become their tributaries. These Sclavonians had 
once been formidable to the empire, but their 
power had been broken by the Emperor Constans. 
Asparuch established himself in the town of Varna, 
near the ancient Odessas, and laid the foundation of 
the Bulgarian monarchy, a kingdom long engaged in 
hostilities with the emperors of Constantinople, and 
whose power tended greatly to accelerate the decline 

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of the Greeks, and reduce the numbers of their 
race in Europe. To this horde of barbarians, Con- 
stantine was compelled to pay tribute * 

The event, however, which exercised the most 
favourable influence on the internal condition of the 
empire, during the reign of Constantine Pogonatus, 
was the assembly of the sixth general council of the 
church at Constantinople. This council was held 
under circumstances peculiarly favourable to candid 
discussion. The ecclesiastical power was not yet too 
strong to set both reason and the civil authorities at 
defiance. Its decisions were adverse to the Mono- 
thelites ; and the orthodox doctrine of two natures 
and two wills in Christ, was received, by the common 
consent of the Greek and Latin parties, as the true 
rule of faith of the Christian church. Religious 
discussion had now taken a strong hold on public 
opinion, and as the majority of the Greek population 
had never adopted the opinions of the Monothe- 
lites, the decisions of the sixth general council 
contributed powerftdly to promote the union of the 
Greeks with the imperial administration. 



Justinian the Second succeeded his father Con- 
stantine at the age of sixteen, and though so very 
young, he immediately assumed the personal direction 
of the government. He was by no means destitute 

* Ducakoe, Familict Bynntinoe, p. 305. Theophanis Ch. 298. 

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of talents, but his cruel and presumptuous character 
rendered him incapable of learning to perform the 
duties of his situation with justice. His violence at 
last rendered him hateful to his subjects ; and as the 
connection of the emperor with the Roman govern- 
ment and people was direct and personal, his power 
was so undermined by the loss of his influence, that, 
in the ninth year of his reign, he was easily driven 
from the throne by a popular sedition. His nose 
was cut off, and he was banished to Cherson. In 
exile, his energy and activity enabled him to secure 
the alliance of the Khazars and of the Bulgarians, 
and he returned to Constantinople as a conqueror, 
after an absence of ten years, His character was 
one of those to which experience is useless, and he 
persisted in his former course of violence, until, 
having exhausted the patience of his subjects, he 
was dethroned and murdered. 

The reign of such a tyrant was not likely to be 
inactive ; and, at its commencement, he turned his 
arms against the Saracens, without respecting the 
peace which had been concluded with his father. 
He sent a powerful army into Armenia under 
Leontius, who subsequently dethroned him. All 
the provinces, where any disposition to favour the 
Saracens had appeared, were laid waste, and the 
army carried off an immense booty and crowds of 
slaves. The barbarism of the Roman government 
had now reached such a pitch, that the Roman 
armies were permitted to plunder the provinces 
which the emperor might still hope to retain in 
permanent subjection to the empire. A Christian 
population was carried away captive, and the most 

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flourishing agricultural districts reduced to deserts, 
incapable of offering any resistance to the Moham- 
medan nomads. The Caliph Abdalmalik, being 
engaged in a struggle for the caliphate with power- 
ful rivals, and disturbed by rebels even in his own 
Syrian dominions, proposed a peace to Justinian, 
which was concluded on terms still more favourable 
to the empire, than those of the treaty between 
Constantine and Moawyah. The caliph engaged to 
pay the emperor an annual tribute of three hundred 
and sixty-five thousand pieces of gold, three hundred 
and sixty slaves, and three hundred and sixty Ara- 
bian horses. The revenues and provinces of Iberia, 
Armenia, and Cyprus, were equally divided between 
the Romans and the Arabs ; but Justinian consented 
not only to abandon the cause of the Mardaites, but 
even engaged to assist the caliph in expelling them 
from Syria. This was effected by the treachery of 
Leontius, who entered their country as a friend and 
murdered their chief. Twelve thousand Mardai'te 
soldiers were enrolled in the armies of the empire, 
and distributed in garrisons in Armenia and Thrace. 
A colony of Mardaites was established at Attalia in 
Pamphylia, and the power of this valiant people was 
completely broken. The removal of the Mardaites 
from Syria was one of the most serious errors of the 
reign of Justinian. As long as they remained in 
force on Mount Libanon, near the centre of the 
Saracen power, the emperor was able to ^render 
them a serious check on the Mohammedans, and 
create dangerous diversions whenever the caliphs 
invaded the empire. Unfortunately, in this age of 
religious bigotry the Monothelite opinions of the 

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Mardai'tes made them an object of aversion or 
suspicion to the imperial administration; and even 
under the prudent government of Constantine 
Pogonatus, they were not viewed with a friendly 
eye, nor did they receive the support which should 
have been granted to them on a just consideration 
of the interests of Christianity, as well as of the 
Roman empire. 

The general depopulation of the empire suggested 
to many of the Roman emperors the project of 
repeopling favoured districts, by an influx of inhabi- 
tants. The origin of many of the most celebrated 
cities of the eastern empire could be traced back 
to small Greek colonies. These emigrants, it was 
known, had rapidly increased in number, and risen 
to wealth. The Roman government never perceived 
the causes which prevented the emigrations effected 
by the emperors from attaining the same prosperity, 
and the attempt at repeopling provinces, and re- 
moving the population of one district to new seats, 
was frequently renewed. Justinian the Second had 
a great taste for these emigrations. Three years 
after the conclusion of peace with Abdalmalik, the 
emperor resolved to withdraw all the inhabitants 
from the half of the island of Cyprus, of which he 
remained master, in order to prevent the Christians 
from becoming accustomed to the Saracen adminis- 
tration. The Cypriate population was transported 
to a new city near Cyzicus, which the emperor called 
after himself, Justinianopolis. It is needless to offer 
any remarks on the impolicy of such a project ; the 
loss of life, and the destruction of property inevitable 
in the execution of such a scheme, could only have 

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been replaced under the most favourable circum- 
stances, and by a long career of prosperity. It is 
known that, in consequence of this desertion, many 
of the Cypriate towns fell into complete ruin, from 
which they have never since emerged. 

Justinian, at the commencement of his reign, 
made a successful expedition into the country occu- 
pied by the Sclavonians in Macedonia, who were 
now closely allied with the Bulgarian principality 
beyond Mount Haemus. This people, imboldened 
by their increased force, had pushed their plundering 
excursions as far as the Propontis. The imperial 
army was completely successful, and both the Scla- 
vonians and their Bulgarian allies were defeated. In 
order to repeople the fertile shores of the Hellespont 
about Abydos, Justinian transplanted a number of 
the Sclavonian families into the province of Opsi- 
cium. This colony was so numerous and powerful, 
that it furnished a considerable contingent to the 
imperial armies* 

The peace with the Saracens was not of long 
duration. Justinian refiised to receive the first 
gold pieces coined by Abdalmelik, which bore the 
legend, " God is the Lord." The tribute had pre- 
viously been paid in money from the municipal 
mints of Syria; and Justinian conceived that the 
new Arabian coinage was an attack on the Holy 
Trinity. He led his army in person against the 
Saracens, and a battle took place near Sebastopolis, 

* 20,000, if we may credit Theophanes, p. 305, fur we must suppose all 
the Sclavonians deserted ; but a note of Saint Martin to his edition of Le 
Beau, (Histoirc du Bat-Empire, xii. 22,) mentions that an Armenian historian 
gives the more probable number of 7000 cavalry. 

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on the coast of Cilicia, in which he was entirely 
defeated, in consequence of the treason of the 
leader of his Sclavonian troops, Justinian fled 
from the field of battle, and having visited, on his 
way to the capital, some of the Sclavonian colonies, 
which he had Established in Asia Minor, he ordered 
the wives and children of the Sclavonian soldiers, 
who had deserted his standard, to be murdered. 
The deserters were established by the Saracens in 
the neighbourhood of Antioch, on the coast of 
Syria, and in the Island of Cyprus ; and under the 
government of the caliph, they were more prospe- 
rous than under that of the Roman emperor. It 
was during this war that the Saracens inflicted the 
severest blow on the Christian population of their 
dominions. Abdalmelik established the Haratch, 
or Christian capitation tax, in order to raise money 
to carry on the war with Justinian. This unfortu- 
nate mode of taxing the Christian subjects of the 
caliph, in a different manner from the Mohamme- 
dans, completely separated the two classes, and 
reduced the Christians to the rank of serft of the 
state, whose most prominent political relation with 
the Mussulman community, was that of furnishing 
money in all the exigencies of the government. 
The decline and ruin of the Christian population, 
through the dominions of the caliphs, were the con- 
sequences of this ill-judged measure, which has, 
probably, tended more to the depopulation of the 
East, than all the tyranny and military violence of 
the Mohammedan armies. The restless spirit of 
Justinian naturally plunged into the ecclesiastical 
controversies which divided the church. He assem- 

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bled a general council, called usually in Trulio, 
from the hall of its meeting having been covered 
with a dome. The proceedings of this council, as 
might have been expected from those of an assembly 
controlled by such a spirit as that of the emperor, 
tended only to increase the growing differences 
between the Greek and Latin parties in the church. 
Of one hundred and two canons sanctioned by this 
council, the pope finally rejected six, as adverse to 
the usages of the Latins.* And thus, an additional 
cause of separation was permanently created be- 
tween the Greeks and Latins, and the measures of 
the church, as well as the political arrangements of 
the times, and the social feelings of the people, all 
tended to render union impossible. 

A fancy for building is a common taste of sove- 
reigns who possess the absolute disposal of large 
funds, without any feeling of duty as trustees for the 
benefit of the people whom they govern. Even in the 
midst of the greatest public distress, the treasury of 
a nation, though on the very verge of ruin and 
bankruptcy, must, nevertheless, contain large sums 
of money drawn from the annual taxation. This 
treasure, if placed at the irresponsible disposal of 
princes, who affect celebrity or magnificence, is 
frequently employed in useless and ornamental 
building ; and this fashion has been so general with 

* Mosheim's EccU$. History by Murdock, i. 539. The six canons rejected 
were — the fifth, which approves of the eighty-five apostolic canons, com- 
monly attributed to Clement ; the thirteenth, which allows priests to live in 
wedlock ; the fifty-fifth, which condems fasting on Saturdays ; the sixty- 
seventh, which earnestly enjoins abstinence from blood and things strangled ; 
the eighty-second, which prohibits the painting of Christ in the image of a 
lamb ; and the eighty-sixth, concerning the equality of the bishops of Rome 
and Constantinople. — Schlegel's note. 

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despots, that the princes who have been most distin- 
guished for their love of building, have not unfre- 
quently been the worst and most oppressive sove- 
reigns. It is always a delicate and difficult task for 
a sovereign to estimate the amount which a nation 
can wisely afford to expend on ornamental architec- 
ture ; and, from his position, he is seldom qualified 
to judge correctly on what buildings ornament ought 
to be employed, in order to make art accord with 
the taste and feelings of the people. Public opinion 
affords the only criterion for the formation of a 
sound judgment on this department of public admi- 
nistration; for, when princes possessing a taste for 
building are not compelled to consult the wants 
and wishes of their subjects, in the construction of 
national edifices, they are apt, by their wild pro- 
jects and lavish expenditure, to create evils in 
the state far greater than any which could result 
from an exhibition of bad taste alone. 

In an evil hour, the love of building took posses- 
sion of Justinian's mind. His lavish expenditure 
soon obliged him to make his financial administra- 
tion more rigorous, and general discontent quickly 
pervaded the capital. The religious and super- 
stitious feelings of the population were severely 
wounded by the emperor's eagerness to destroy a 
church of the Virgin, in order to embellish the 
vicinity of his palace with a splendid fountain. 
Justinian's own scruples required to be soothed by 
a religious ceremony, but the patriarch for some 
time refused to officiate, alleging that the church 
had no prayers to desecrate holy buildings. The 
emperor, however, was the head of the church and the 

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master of the priesthood, whom lie could easily remove 
from office, so that the patriarch did not long dare 
to refuse obedience to his orders. It is said, how- 
ever, that the patriarch shewed very clearly his 
dissatisfaction, by repairing to the spot, and autho- 
rizing the destruction of the church by an ecclesias- 
tical ceremony, to which he added these words, " to 
God, who suffers all things, be rendered glory, now 
and for ever. Amen." The ceremony was sufficient 
to satisfy the conscience of the emperor, who perhaps 
neither heard nor heeded the words of the patriarch. 
The public discontent was loudly expressed, and 
Justinian soon perceived that the fury of the 
populace threatened a rebellion in Constantinople. 
To avert the danger, he took every measure w T hich 
unscrupulous cruelty could suggest ; but, as generally 
happens in periods of general discontent and excite- 
ment, the storm burst in an unexpected quarter, 
and the hatred of Justinian left him suddenly without 
support. Leontius, one of the ablest generals of the 
empire, had been thrown into prison, but was at this 
time ordered to assume the government of Achaea. 
He considered the nomination as a mere pretext to 
remove him from the capital, and put him to death 
at a distance without any trial. On the eve of his 
departure, Leontius placed himself at the head of a 
sedition ; Justinian was seized, and his ministers 
were murdered by the populace with the most 
savage cruelty. Leontius was proclaimed emperor, 
but he spared the life of his dethroned predecessor 
for the sake of the benefits which he had received 
from Constantino Pogonatus. He ordered Justinian's 
nose to be cut off, and exiled him to Cherson. 

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The government of Leontius was characterized 
by the unsteadiness which not unfrequently marks 
the administration of the ablest sovereigns, who 
obtain their thrones by accidental circumstances 
rather than systematic combinations. The most 
important event of his reign was the final loss 
of Africa, which also led to his own dethrone- 
ment. The indefatigable Caliph Abdalmelik de- 
spatched a powerful expedition into Africa under 
Hasan ; the province was soon conquered, and 
Carthage was captured, after a feeble resistance.* 
An expedition sent by Leontius to relieve the 
province, arrived too late to save Carthage, but the 
commander-in-chief forced the entrance into the 
port, recovered possession of the city, and drove the 
Arabs from most of the fortified towns on the coast. 
The Arabs constantly received new reinforcements, 
which the Roman general demanded from Leontius 
in vain. At last the Arabs assembled a fleet, and 
the Romans being defeated in a naval engagement, 
were compelled to abandon Carthage, which the 
Arabs utterly destroyed, — having too often expe- 
rienced the superiority of the Romans, both in naval 
affairs and in the art of war, to venture on retaining 
populous and fortified cities on the sea coast. This 
curious feet affords strong proof of the great 

* Carthage was founded B. C. 878. The Tyrian colony was exterminated 
by the Romans, B. C. 146. The Roman colony of Carthage was founded by 
Julius Caesar B. C. 44, and destroyed by the Arabs A. D. 698. 

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superiority of the Roman commerce and naval 
resources, and equally powerful evidence of the 
shameful disorder in the civil and military adminis- 
tration of the empire, which rendered these advan- 
tages useless, and allowed the fleets of the Greeks 
to be defeated by the naval forces collected by the 
Arabs, from among their Egyptian and Syrian sub- 
jects. At the same time, it is evident that the 
naval victories of the Arabs could never have been 
gained, unless a powerful party of the Christians had 
been induced, by their feelings of hostility to the 
Roman empire, to afford them a willing support ; 
for the Saracens had neither shipbuilders nor sailors 
among the Mussulmans. 

The Roman expedition, on its retreat from 
Carthage, stopped in the Island of Crete, where a 
sedition broke out among the troops, in which 
their general was killed. Apsimar, the commander 
of the Cibyrraiot troops, was declared emperor by 
the name of Tiberius, and the fleet proceeded directly 
to Constantinople, which they captured.* Leontius 
was taken prisoner, his nose cut off, and his person 
confined in a monastery. Tiberius Apsimar governed 
the empire with prudence, and his brother Heraclius 
commanded the Roman armies with success. The 
imperial troops penetrated into Syria ; a victory was 

* The Cibyrraiot Theme included the ancient Caria, Lycia, Pamphylia, 
and a part of Phrygia, Cibyra Magna, a considerable town at the angle of 
Phrygia, Carta, and Lycia. Tiberius C&sar was regarded as its second 
founder, from his having remitted the tribute after a severe earthquake. 
Taciti Ann, iv. 13. From him Apsimar must have taken the name "of 
Tiberius, and not from the emperor of Constantinople, of better fame. Cou- 
stantine Porphyrogenitus, indeed, says the theme in question was named 
from the insignificant town of Cibyra in Pamphylia ; but his authority is of 
little value on such a point. De Them. lib. i. p. 16. 

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gained over the Arabs at Samosata, but the ravages 
of the Romans in their invasion, surpassed the 
greatest cruelties ever inflicted by the Arabs; for 
two hundred thousand Saracens are said to have 
perished during the campaign. Armenia was in- 
vaded and laid waste both by the Romans and the 
Saracens, as the various turns of war, and the 
changing interests of the Armenian population, 
induced them to favour the contending parties. 
But while Tiberius was occupied in the duties of 
government, and living without any fear of a 
domestic enemy, he was suddenly surprised in his 
capital by Justinian, who appeared before Constan- 
tinople at the head of a Bulgarian army. 

Ten years of exile had been spent by the banished 
emperor in vain attempts to obtain power. His 
violent proceedings made him every where detested, 
but he possessed the daring enterprize and the 
ferocious cruelty necessary for a chief of banditti, 
joined to his confidence in his lawful claim to the 
imperial throne; so that no undertaking appeared 
to him hopeless. After quarreling with the inhabi- 
tants of Cherson, and with his brother-in-law, the 
king of the Khazars, he succeeded, by a desperate 
exertion of courage, in reaching the country of the 
Bulgarians. Terbelis, their sovereign, agreed to 
assist him in recovering his throne, and they marched 
immediately with a Bulgarian army to the walls of 
Constantinople. Three days after their arrival, they 
succeeded in entering the capital during the night. 
Ten years of adversity had increased the natural 
ferocity of Justinian's disposition ; and a desire of 
vengeance, so unreasonable as to verge on madness, 

2 I 

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seemed to be the chief motive of his actions. The 
population of Constantinople had now sunk to the 
same degree of barbarism as the nations surrounding 
them, and in cruelty they were worthy subjects of 
their emperor. Justinian gratified them by cele- 
brating his restoration with splendid chariot races 
in the circus. He sate on an elevated throne, 
with his feet resting on the necks of the dethroned 
emperors, Leontius and Tiberius, who were stretched 
on the platform below, while the Greek populace 
around shouted the words of the Psalmist, " Thou 
shalt tread down the asp and the basilisk, thou shalt 
trample on the lion and the dragon."* The de- 
throned emperors, and Heraclius, who had so well 
sustained the glory of the Roman arms against the 
Saracens, were afterwards hung from the battle- 
ments of Constantinople. Justinian's whole soul 
was devoted to executing his plans of vengeance. 
Though the conquest of Tyana laid open Asia Minor 
to the incursions of the Saracens, instead of opposing 
them, he directed his disposable forces to punish the 
cities of Ravenna and Cherson, because they had 
incurred his personal hatred. Both the proscribed 
cities had rejoiced at his dethronement ; they were 
both taken and treated with savage cruelty. The 
extermination of Cherson was decided ; but the 
troops sent to execute the barbarous orders having 
revolted, proclaimed an Armenian, called Bardanes, 
emperor, under the name of Philippicus ;f and 

* These are the words of the Septuagint, Psal. xc. 13. In our version, 
Psal. xci. 13, the passage stands, " Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder : 
the young lion and the dragon 6lialt thou trample under feet/* 

+ Theophanes calls him the son of Nioephorus the Patrician. P. 311. 
Nicephorus Pat. mentions that he was an Armenian. P. 50, ed. Bonn. 

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seizing the fleet, sailed directly to Constantinople. 
Justinian was encamped with his army in Asia 
Minor, when Philippicus arrived, and took possession 
of the capital without encountering any resistance. 
The troops were as little pleased with Justinian's con- 
duct since his restoration, as was every other class of 
his subjects ; but his ferocity and courage never 
failed him, and his rage was unbounded when he 
found himself abandoned by every one. He was 
seized and executed without having it in his power 
to offer the slightest resistance. His son Tiberius, 
though only six years of age, was torn from the 
altar of a church, to which he had been conducted 
for safety, and cruelly massacred ; and thus the race 
of Heraclius was extinguished, after the family had 
governed the Roman empire for exactly a century. 
A. D. 611 to 711. 

During the interval of six years which elapsed 
from the death of Justinian the Second to the 
accession of Leo the Isaurian, the imperial throne 
was occupied by three sovereigns. Their history is 
only remarkable as proving the inherent strength of 
the Roman body politic, which could survive such 
continual revolutions, even in the state of weakness 
to which it was reduced. Philippicus was a luxurious 
and extravagant prince, who thought only of enjoying 
the situation which he had obtained. He was soon 
dethroned by a band of conspirators, who carried 
him off from the palace while in a fit of drunkenness, 
and after putting out his eyes, left him helpless in 
the middle of the hippodrome. The reign of 
Philippicus would hardly deserve notice, had he not 
increased the confusion into which the empire had 

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fallen, and exposed the total want of character and 
conscience among the Greek clergy, by re-establish- 
ing the Monothelite doctrines, in a general council 
of the eastern bishops. 

As the conspirators who had dethroned Philippicus, 
had formed no plan of fixing on any one of their 
own party as his successor, the first secretary 
of state was called to the imperial dignity with 
general approbation, under the name of Anastasius 
the Second. He immediately re-established the 
orthodox faith, and his character is consequently the 
subject of eulogy with the historians of his reign. 
The Saracens, whose power was continually increas- 
ing, were at this time preparing a great expedition 
at Alexandria, in order to attack Constantinople. 
Anastasius sent a fleet with the troops of the theme 
Opsieium, to destroy the magazines of timber col- 
lected on the coast Phoenicia, for the purpose of 
assisting the preparations at Alexandria. The 
Roman armament was commanded by a deacon of 
St Sophia, who also held the office of grand treasurer 
of the empire. The nomination of a priest to 
command the army gave great dissatisfaction to the 
troops, who were not yet so deeply tinctured with 
ecclesiastical ideas and manners, as the aristocracy 
of the eastern empire. A sedition took place while 
the army lay at Rhodes: John the Deacon was 
slain, and the expedition quitted the port in order 
to return to the capital. The soldiers, on their way 
landed at Adramyttium, and finding there a collector 
of the revenues of a popular character, they declared 
him emperor, under the name of Theodosius the 

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The new emperor was compelled unwillingly to 
follow the army. For six months, Constantinople 
was closely besieged, and the Emperor Anastasius, 
who had retired to Nicaea, was defeated in a general 
engagement. The capital was at last taken by the 
rebels, who were so deeply sensible of their real 
interests, that they maintained strict discipline, and 
Anastasius, whose weakness gave little confidence to 
his followers, consented to resign the empire to 
Theodosius, and to retire into a monastery, that he 
might secure an amnesty to all his friends. Theo- 
dosius was distinguished by many good qualities, but 
on the throne he proved a perfect cypher, and his 
reign is only remarkable as affording a pretext for 
the assumption of the imperial dignity by Leo the 
Third, called the Isaurian. This able and enter- 
prizing officer, perceiving that the critical times 
rendered the empire the prize of any man who had 
talents to seize, and power to defend it, placed 
himself at the head of the troops in Asia Minor, and 
when proclaimed emperor, soon compelled Theodosius 
to quit the throne and become a priest. 



It has been already observed, that with the reign 
of Leo the Isaurian, a new era begins in the 
history of the East, and that from it we must date 
the commencement of the Byzantine monarchy. 
The subjects of the imperial court were now princi- 

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pally of the Greek race and language, and of the 
orthodox church. It seems probable, therefore, that 
if the Greek nation and the Constantinopolitan 
government had been guided by similar feelings, a 
complete amalgamation of interests and views would 
immediately have taken place. This did not happen ; 
the new emperor, from his religious opinions, engaged 
the imperial administration in a direct contest with 
the Greek nation, a contest which was transmitted 
to his successors, not only in the form of a political 
and ecclesiastical, but also of a national controversy. 
The edict of Leo published in 726 against the 
worship of pictures in churches, was the origin of 
this long struggle. It soon displayed the fact, that 
the national feelings of the Greeks were more 
powerful than the systematic administration of the 
empire, since the emperor could no longer call into 
operation against them the resources and prejudices 
of the provincial and heretic population. The con- 
test which Leo carried on, prevented the ascendancy 
of the Greek people and church from being finally 
established, until a new revolution in the imperial 
court, more than a century after the death of Leo, 
gave a permanent ascendancy to the orthodox 
ecclesiastical party in the empire, (A. D. 842.) Still, 
as the views which influenced the emperor and the 
court of Constantinople in the struggle concerning 
picture-worship, had no connection with any preced- 
ing conduct of the imperial government, and as the 
policy and prejudices of Leo were at variance with 
the system of the Roman government, even in its 
last state of degeneracy under the decendants of 
Heraclius, from their deep tincture of Asiatic 

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opinions, it seems on the whole, that no better 
period can be fixed upon for terminating the history 
of the Greek people under the domination of the 
Romans, than that of the accession of Leo. A new 
era of history then opens, marked by the extraordi- 
nary influence which religious opinions exercised in 
society ; so powerful indeed did these become, that 
they prevailed over political and national interests 
in the earlier portion of the history of the Byzantine 

There is, however, one fact worthy of note connected 
with the iconoclastic struggle, which requires to be 
related here, as it affords the best data that we pos- 
sess for illustrating the condition of the Greek people 
during this period. A remarkable rebellion of the 
inhabitants of ancient Hellas, and the islands of the 
Archipelago, occurred immediately after the pro- 
mulgation of the edict against picture-worship.* 
The interval was so short, that it is evident the 
imperial ordinance furnished only the immediate 
occasion of the outbreak, which must have been 
already prepared by a long period of dissatisfaction 
originating in other causes. These Greeks, enraged, 
as historians relate, at the orders of Leo to place 
the pictures in the churches in so elevated a posi- 
tion, that the orthodox could no longer kiss them, 
determined to drive the heretic emperor from the 
throne of Constantinople.! They collected a nume- 
rous fleet, and a powerful army, and declared a 

* The edict was publinhed in 726. The Greek fleet arrived at Constanti- 
nople on the 18th April, 727. Notie in Theophanem, p. 72. ed. Venet. 

t Niceph. Pat. p. 37. Theopha.nis Ch. 339. Cedrem Hist. Compend. 
i. 454. 

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native Greek, named Cosmas, the lawful emperor 
of the orthodox. The command of the troops was 
given to a Greek officer named Agallianos ; and the 
expedition boldly proceeded to attack the emperor 
in his capital. The confidence of the Greeks, in 
thus venturing to attempt the conquest of Con- 
stantinople, and their hopes of succeeding in driving 
Leo from the throne, which he had apparently 
strengthened by defeating a powerful Saracen army 
and fleet, are only explicable on the supposition that 
the national feelings of the whole Greek race were 
strongly excited by the struggle. The Greeks most 
have felt strong in their own valour, and enthu- 
siastic in the goodness of the cause ; but they appear 
to have greatly overrated their own strength, or 
strangely to have overlooked the power and ability 
of their enemy. Leo defeated the expedition, in a 
naval engagement, as it approached the capital, by 
availing himself of the Greek fire, a defence which 
had often saved the empire from the attacks of 
the Saracens. The general, Agallianos, plunged 
into the sea rather than surrender, but the rebel 
emperor was taken prisoner and beheaded. Leo 
treated the great mass of his prisoners with unusual 
generosity ; but it is difficult, from our scanty know- 
ledge of the facts, to decide whether his conduct 
was the effect of policy or contempt. Even if 
we admit that the Greeks displayed considerable 
presumption in this daring assault on a city so 
populous and powerful as Constantinople, and which, 
but ten years before, had defeated the flower of the 
Saracen armies under Moslemah, their ablest gene- 
ral, and destroyed an immense fleet, collected with 

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great care, and manned by the best sailors of 
Phoenicia, Egypt, and Africa ; still the attempt 
proves, that the wealth and numbers of the Greeks 
were united to considerable national energy, and a 
bold love of independence. Adverse circumstances, 
and the immediate vicinity of the wealth and power- 
ful central government of Constantinople, prevented 
this independent spirit of the Greeks from producing 
any effect on the history of the nation, or developing 
its social influence, under a system of free municipal 
government like that which conferred wealth and 
glory on Venice, Amalfi, and Ragusa. This rebel- 
lion, however, affords the last link in a long chain of 
evidence, which establishes, that even to the very 
latest moment of their subjection to the Roman 
power, the Greeks in Europe clung steadily to their 
ancient national feelings as a separate people. 
When the Roman empire appeared on the brink of 
death, the opportunity which was offered of regain- 
ing their liberty was eagerly seized ; but with the 
imperfect political knowledge of the times, it was 
rashly linked with a scheme of conquering the 
capital, instead of being restricted to the assertion 
of independence, and the defence of their native 

During the period which elapsed between the 
death of Heraclius and the accession of Leo, the 
few remains of Roman principles of administration, 
which had lingered in the imperial court, were 
gradually extinguished. The long cherished hope of 
restoring the ancient power and glory of the Roman 
empire expired, and even the aristocracy, which always 
clings the last to antiquated forms and ideas, no 

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longer dwelt with confidence on the memory of 
former days. The conviction, that the empire had 
undergone a great moral and political change, which 
severed the future irrevocably from the past, though 
it was probably not fully understood, was at least 
felt and acted on both by the people and the 
government. The sad fact, that the splendid sun, 
w r hich had illuminated the ancient world, had now 
set as completely at Constantinople as at Rome, 
Antioch, Alexandria, and Carthage, was too evident 
to be longer doubted ; the very twilight of antiquity 
had faded into darkuess. It is rather, however, the 
province of the antiquary, than of the historian, to 
collect all the traces of this truth, scattered over the 
space of two centuries. 

There is one curious and important circumstance 
in the history of the latter days of the Roman empire, 
of which little beyond the mere fact has been trans- 
mitted by historians. A long and violent contention 
between the imperial power and the aristocracy, 
which represented the last degenerate remains of the 
Roman senate and people, distracted the councils 
and confounded the energy of the Roman govern- 
ment. This great struggle commenced in the reign 
of Maurice, and, under various modifications, appears 
at intervals during the whole period of the govern- 
ment of the family of Heraclius. This aristocratic 
influence had more of a Greek than of a Roman 
character ; its feelings and views had originated in 
the days of the Macedonian rather than of the 
Roman empire; and both Heraclius and Constans 
the Second, in their schemes for circumscribing its 
authority in the state, resolved to remove the capital 

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of the empire from Constantinople. Both conceived 
the vain hope of re-establishing the imperial power 
on a purely Roman basis, as a means of subduing, or 
at least controlling, the power of Greek nationality, 
which was gaining ground both in the state and the 
church. This contest appears to have terminated 
in the destruction of the Roman empire. Its well 
organized civil administration perished utterly ; the 
Byzantine aristocracy and the Greek clergy were 
humbled ; and the political government became a 
mere arbitrary despotism, differing little from the 
prevailing form of monarchy in the East, and de- 
prived of all those fundamental institutions, and that 
systematic character, which had enabled the Roman 
state to survive the extravagancies of Nero and the 
incapacity of Phocas. 

The disorganization of the Roman government at 
this period, and the want of any influence over the 
court by the Greek nation, are visible in the choice 
of the persons who occupied the imperial throne 
after the extinction of the family of Heraclius. 
They were selected by accident, and several were of 
foreign origin, who did not even look upon them- 
selves as either Greeks or Romans. Philippicus was 
an Armenian, and Leo the Isaurian, whose reign opens 
a new vista in eastern history, talks of himself as born 
in the Roman empire, a statement that distinctly 
implies that he did not consider himself either as a 
Greek or a Roman.* On the throne he proved 
that this was his real opinion, and that he was desti- 
tute of any attachment to Roman political institu- 

* THEOrUAMS (1*. p. 330, *ai >iv#v vT$ rn* £«r<Ai/«» VvfAalttt. 

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tions, and any respect for the Greek ecclesiastical 
establishment. It was by the force of his talents, 
and by his able direction of the state and of the 
army, that he succeeded in securing his family on 
the Byzantine throne ; for he unquestionably placed 
himself in direct hostility to the feelings and opinions 
of the majority of his subjects, and transmitted to 
his successors a contest between the imperial power 
and the Greek nation concerning picture-worship, in 
which the very existence of Greek nationality, civili- 
zation, and religion, became at last compromised. 
From the commencement of the iconoclastic contest, 
the history of the Greek people assumes a new 
aspect. Their civilization, and their connection with 
the Byzantine empire, become linked with the 
policy and fortunes of the eastern church, and eccle- 
siastical affairs obtain a supremacy over all social 
and political considerations. 

The geographical extent of the empire at the time 
of its transition from the Roman to the Byzantine 
state, will afford evidence of the influence which the 
territorial changes must have exercised on the 
national feelings of the subjects, and of the exclusive 
importance acquired by the Greek race. The frontier 
towards the Saracens of Syria commenced at Mop- 
suhestia in Cilicia, the last fortress of the Arab power. 
It ran along the chains of Mounts Amanus and 
Taurus to the mountainous district to the north of 
Edessa and Nisibis, called, after the time of Justinian, 
the Fourth Armenia, of which Martyropolis was the 
capital. It then followed nearly the ancient limits 
of the empire until it reached the Black Sea, a short 
distance to the east of Trebizond. On the northern 

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shores of the Euxine, Cherson was now the only city 
that acknowledged the supremacy of the empire, 
retaining at the same time all the municipal privi- 
leges of a free city. In Europe, Mount Haemus 
formed the barrier against the Bulgarians, while the 
mountainous ranges which bound Macedonia to the 
north-west, and encircle the territory of Dyrrachium, 
were regarded as the limits of the free Sclavonian 
states. It is true that large bodies of Sclavonians 
had penetrated to the south of this line, and lived 
in Greece and Peloponnesus, but not quite as inde- 
pendent of the imperial administration as their 
northern brethren of the Servian family. 

Istria, Venice, and the cities on the Dalmatian 
coast, still acknowledged the supremacy of the 
empire, though their distant position, their com- 
mercial connections, and their religious feelings, 
were all tending towards a final separation. In the 
centre of Italy, the exarchate of Ravenna still held 
Rome in subjection, but the people of Italy were 
entirely alienated from the political administration, 
which was now regarded as purely Greek, and the 
Italians, with Rome before their eyes, could hardly 
admit the pretensions of the Greeks to be regarded as 
the legitimate representatives of the Roman empire. 
The loss of northern and central Italy was conse- 
quently an event in constant danger of occurring ; 
and it would have required an able, energetic, and 
just government, to have repressed the national 
feelings of the Italians, and conciliated their alle- 
giance. The condition of the population of the 
south of Italy and of Sicily was very different. There 
the majority of the inhabitants were Greeks in 

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language and manners; but still at this time the 
cities of Gaeta, Naples, Amalfi, and Sorento, the 
district of Otranto, and the peninsula to the south 
of the ancient Sybaris, now called Calabria, were 
the only parts which remained under the Byzantine 
government. Sicily, though it had began to suffer 
from the incursions of the Saracens, was still popu- 
lous and wealthy ; but Sardinia, the last possession 
of the Greeks to the westward of Italy, was con- 
quered by the Saracens about this time. 



In order to conclude the view which, in the pre- 
ceding pages, we have endeavoured to present of the 
various causes that gradually diminished the power, 
the numbers, and the influence of the Greek race, it 
is necessary to add a sketch of the position of the 
nation at the commencement of the eighth century. 
At this unfortunate period in the history of man- 
kind, the Greeks were placed in imminent danger of 
that annihilation which had already destroyed their 
Roman conquerors. The victories of the Arabs were 
attended with very different consequences to the 
Greek population of the countries which they subdued, 
from those which had followed the conquests of the 
Romans. Like the earlier domination of the Par- 
thians, the Arab power was employed in such a 
manner, as ultimately to exterminate the whole 
Greek population in all the conquered countries; 

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and though, for a short period, the Arabs, like their 
predecessors the Parthians, protected Greek art and 
Grecian civilization, their policy soon changed, and 
the Greeks were proscribed. The little of art 
and science which flourished at the court of the 
caliphs was chiefly derived from the resources and 
literature of their Syrian Christian subjects, whose 
acquaintance both with Syriac and Greek opened to 
them an extensive range of scientific literature 
utterly lost to the moderns. It is to be observed, 
that a very great number of the eminent literary and 
scientific authors of later Greek literature were 
Asiatics, and that these writers frequently made use 
of their native languages in those useful and scien- 
tific works which were intended for practical instruc- 
tion to their own countrymen* In Egypt and 
Cyrena'ica the Greek population was soon exter- 
minated by the Arabs, and every trace of Grecian 
civilization was much sooner effaced than in Syria ; 
though even there no very long interval elapsed 
before a small remnant of the Greek population was 
all that survived. Antioch itself, long the third city 
of the eastern empire, the spot where the Christians 
had first received their name,* and the principal seat 
of Greek civilization in Asia for upwards of nine 
centuries, though it was not depopulated and razed 
to the ground like Alexandria and Carthage, never- 
theless soon ceased to be a Grecian city. 

The numerous Greek colonies which had flourished 
in the Tauric Chersonese, and on the eastern and 
northern shores of the Euxine, were now almost all 

• Acts, xi. 26. 

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deserted. Cherson, which had for centuries retained 
its independence beyond the bounds of the Roman 
empire, as a wealthy state, and a useful ally of 
Rome, alone retained its character as a Greek city, 
but subject to the court of Constantinople.* The 
other cities of Tauris had submitted to the Khazars, 
who now occupied all the open country with their 
flocks and herds; and the Chersonites, shut out 
from the cultivation of the rich lands, whose har- 
vests had formerly supplied Athens with grain, 
were entirely supported by foreign commerce. 
Their numerous ships exchanged the hides, wax, 
and salt fish of the neighbouring districts, for the 
necessaries and luxuries of a city life, in Constanti- 
nople, and along the southern shores of the Black 
Sea.f It affords matter for reflection to find, that 
Cherson, — situated in a climate which, from the 
foundation of the colony, opposed insurmountable 
barriers to the introduction of much of the peculiar 
character of Greek social civilization, and which 
deprived the art, and the popular literature of the 
mother country, of some portion of their charm, — to 
whose inhabitants the Greek temple, and the Greek 
theatre, must ever have remained articles of luxury, 

* Gibbon's Decline and Fall, iii. 124. Constant. Forphyr. De culm, 
imp, c. 53. 

f Leucon, king of Bosporus, (B. C 393 — 333,) once sent to Athens, 
from the Tauric Chersonese, in a year of scarcity, upwards of three millions 
bushels of grain. The ordinary importation was about six hundred thou- 
sand. Strabo, vii. c. iv. vol. 2. 97. ed. Tauch. Demosthenes in Leptin* 
467. In the t ; me of Strabo, the eastern part of the Chersonese was a coun- 
try very fertile in grain ; but in that of Constantino Porph., Cherson imported 
corn, wine, and oil as foreign luxuries. Gibbon, in copying Coust Porph. 
when speaking of the time of Justinian the Second, omits to notice the 
commercial prosperity of the place, and represents it as a lonely settlement 
ix. 18. See pp. 170, 171. 

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and not portions of existence, — should still have 
preserved, to this late period of history, both its 
Greek municipal organization, and its independent 
civic government. It appears, too, from the testi- 
mony of Constantine Porphyrogenitus, to have 
continued to exist, as the last free city of the 
Greeks, in a condition of respectable indepen- 
dence, though under imperial protection, down to 
the middle of the tenth century. 

In Greece itself, the Greeks had been driven 
from many fertile districts by the Sclavonian tribes, 
that had established themselves in large bodies in 
Greece and the Peloponnesus, and had often pushed 
their plundering and piratical incursions among the 
islands of the Archipelago, from which they had 
carried off numerous bands of slaves.* In the cities 
and islands which the Greeks still possessed, the 
secluded position of the population, and the exclusive 
attention which they were compelled to give to their 
local defence, introduced a degree of ignorance, 
which soon extinguished the last remains of Greek 
civilization, and effaced all knowledge of Greek 
literature. The diminished population of the Euro- 
pean Greeks now occupied the shores of the Adriatic 
to the south of Dyrrachium, and the maritime dis- 
tricts of Greece, Macedonia, and Thrace, as far as 
Constantinople. The interior of the country was 
every where overrun by Sclavonian colonies, though 
many mountainous districts, and most of the fortified 
places, still remained in the possession of the Greeks. 
It is, unfortunately, impossible to explain with pre-* 

* NitKPH. Pat. pp. 40. 86. iul. Bonn, 
2 K 

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cision the real nature and extent of the Sclavonic 
colonization of Greece ; and, indeed, before it be 
possible to decide how far it partook of conquest, 
and how far it resulted from the occupation of 
deserted and uncultivated lands, it becomes abso- 
lutely necessary to arrive at some definite infonnar 
tion concerning the diminution which had taken 
place in the agricultural classes in the country, and 
of the social position of the slaves, serfs, or freemen, 
who survived in the depopulated districts. The 
scanty materials existing, render the inquiry one 
which can only engage the antiquary, who can stop 
to connect a few isolated facts ; but the historian 
must turn away from the conjectures which would 
connect these facts into a system. The condition of 
social life, during the decline of the Roman empire* 
had led to the division of the provincial population 
into two classes, the urban and the rustic, or into 
citizens and peasants ; and the superior position 
and greater security of the citizens or burghers, 
gradually enabled them to assume a political supe- 
riority over the free peasants, and at last to reduce 
them, in a great measure, to the rank of serfs. 1 
Slaves became, about the same time, of much 
greater relative value, and more difficult to be 
procured ; and the distinction naturally arose be- 
tween purchased slaves, who formed a part of the 
household and of the family of the possessor — and 
agricultural serfs, whose partial liberty was attended 
by the severest hardships, by a condition of the 
lowest degradation, and great personal danger. The 

* ( W. Jutt. xi. t. 49. 1. 1. < **/. Theod. v. par. t. 9 nnd 11, 5?c 

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population of Greece and the islands, in the time of 
Alexander the Great, may be estimated at three 
millions and a half;* and probably half of this 
number consisted of slaves. During the vicissitudes 
of the Greek population under the Roman domina- 
tion, the diminution of its numbers cannot have 
been less than the total amount of the whole slave 
population, though doubtless the diminution did not 
really take place in any one class of society. The 
extent, however, to which the general depopulation 
affected the agricultural population, and the value 
of labour, must be answered, before full light can be 
thrown on the real nature of the Sclavonic and 
Albanian emigrations in Greece.f 

In the island of Sicily, and in the south of Italy, 
the great bulk of the population was Greek, both in 
language and manners, and few portions of the 
Greek race had succeeded so well in preserving 
their wealth and property uninjured.:}: 

Even in Asia Minor the decline of the numbers 
of the Greek race had been rapid. This decline 
must, however, be attributed rather to bad govern- 
ment causing insecurity of property and difficulty of 
communication, than to hostile invasions; for from 
the period of the Persian invasions during the reign 
of Heraclius, the greater part of this immense coun- 
try had enjoyed almost a century of uninterrupted 

* Clinton's Fasti JltU. vol. ii. p. 431. 

t The high value of labour in many thinly peopled countries in a 
declining state, as Turkey, is a subject for curious investigation, as con- 
nected with the decline of one race of the population, and its replacement 
by another. 

% For the antiquity of the Greek race and language in Magna Grcecia, 
see Nieduhr, Hist, of Rome, i. 61. Eng. trans. The Greek language con* 
tinned in use until the fourteenth century. 

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peace. The Persian invasions had never been very 
injurious to the sea-coast, where the Greek cities 
were still numerous and wealthy; but oppression 
and neglect had already destroyed the internal trade 
of the central provinces, and education was becoming 
daily of less value to the inhabitants of the isolated 
and secluded districts of the interior.* The Greek 
tongue began to be neglected, and the provincial 
dialects, corrupted by an admixture of the Lydian, 
Carian, Phrygian, and Cappadocian languages, be- 
came the ordinary medium of business and conver- 
sation. Bad government had caused poverty, poverty 
had produced barbarism, and the ignorance created 
by barbarism became the means of perpetuating an 
arbitrary and oppressive system of administration. 
The people, ignorant of all written language, felt 
unable to check the exercise of official abuses by the 
control of the law, and by direct application to the 
central administration. Their wish, therefore, was 
to abridge as much as possible all the proceedings of 
power ; and as it was always more easy to save their 
persons than their properties from the subordinate 
officers of the administration, despotism became the 
favourite form of government with the great mass of 
the Asiatic population. 

It is impossible to attempt any detailed examina- 
tion of the changes which had taken place in the 
numbers of the Greek population in Asia Minor. 
The fact that extensive districts, once populous and 
wealthy, w T ere already deserts, is proved by the colo- 

* The barbarism of the provincial Asiatics is often alluded to bv the 
Byzantine writers. Auxiovug «n»«f « kuKKv§£&>rn/s. Theophanis Chron. 

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nies which Justinian the Second settled in various 
parts of the country. The extent to which the 
emperor was able to carry these emigrations, shews 
that the population had disappeared more rapidly 
than the destruction of the agricultural resources of 
the country. The sudden settlement of the Sclavo- 
nians, so numerous that they were capable of fur- 
nishing an auxiliary army to the emperor, and the 
unexpected migration of nearly half of the inhabi- 
tants of the Island of Cyprus, without mentioning 
the Mardai'tes who were established in Asia Minor, 
could never have taken place unless houses, wells, 
fruit-trees, water-courses, enclosures, and roads, had 
existed in tolerable preservation, and thus furnished 
the new colonist with an immense amount of well 
employed labour. The fact, that these new colonies 
planted by Justinian the Second could survive and 
support themselves, seems a curious circumstance, 
when connected with the depopulation and declining 
state of the empire which led to their establishment. 
One of the features of society at this period almost 
escapes the notice of the meagre historians whom we 
possess, though it must have existed to such an extent 
as materially to Ijave aggravated the distress of the 
Greek population, and tended to diminish their 
numbers. Even had history been entirely silent on 
the subject, there could have been no doubt of the 
existence of numerous bands of brigands in the latter 
days of the Roman empire, from the knowledge which 
we have of the condition of the inhabitants, and of 
the geographical conformation of the land. History 
affords, however, a few casual glances of the extent 
of the evil. The existence of an extensive tribe of 

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brigands in the mountains of Thrace, during a period 
of two centuries, is proved by the testimony of 
authorities which the time and circumstances render 
unimpeachable. Menander mentions bands of rob- 
bers, under the name of Scamars, who plundered the 
ambassadors sent by the Avars to the Emperor 
Justin the Second; and these very Scamars con- 
tinued to exist as an organized nation of robbers in 
the same district until the time of Constantine the 
Fifth, (Copronymus,) A. D. 765, when the capture 
and cruel torture of one of their chiefs is narrated 
by Theophanes.* 

History also affords us numerous isolated facts, 
which, when collected, produce on the mind the 
conviction, that the diminution in numbers, and the 
decline in civilization of the Greek race, were quite 
as much the effect of the oppression and injustice of 
the Roman government, as of the violence committed 
by the barbarian invaders of the empire. During 
the reign of that insane tyrant Justinian the Second, 
the imperial troops, when properly commanded, 
shewed, that the remembrance which they retained 
of Roman discipline, easily enabled them to defeat 
all their enemies in a fair field of battle. Leontius, 
and Heraclius, the brother of Tiberius Apsimar, were 
completely victorious over the redoubted Saracens ; 
Justinian himself defeated the Bulgarians and 
Sclavonians. But the whole power of the empire 
was withdrawn from the people, to be concentrated 
in the government. The Greek municipal guards 
had been carefully deprived of their arms under 

* Exccrpta t Mfnandri Hisf. p. 313. cd. Bonn. Tmeopiiams Chron. 3C7. 

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Justinian the First, whose timid policy regarded 
internal rebellion as far more to be dreaded than 
foreign invasions. The sad truth, that the people 
every where hated the government, had been too 
constantly apparent for the maxims of the adminis- 
tration to have undergone any alteration at a subse- 
quent period. The European Greeks were regarded 
as provincials just as much as the wild Lycaonians 
or Isaurians ; and if they succeeded in resisting the 
Sclavonians with arms in their hands, they really 
owed their existence to the weakness and neglect 
which, in all despotic governments, prevent the 
strict execution of those laws which are at variance 
with the feelings and interests of the population, the 
moment that the agents of the government can 
derive no direct profit from enforcing them. 

The Roman government always threw the greatest 
difficulties in the way of their subjects' acquiring the 
means of defending themselves, without the aid of 
the imperial army. Justinian, however, when he 
disarmed his people, inflicted a more serious injury 
on the Greek cities than on the rest of his dominions ; 
for while he dissolved their local militia, he likewise 
robbed them of the pecuniary resources which had 
enabled them to preserve their mental civilization 
and physical well-being. The feeling caused by his 
oppressive conduct, is well portrayed in the bitter 
satire of the secret history of Procopius. The hatred 
between the inhabitants of Hellas and the Roman 
Greeks connected with the imperial administration, 
soon became mutual, and at last a term of contempt 
is used by the historians of the Byzantine empire to 

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distinguish the native Greeks from the other 
Greek inhabitants of the empire, — they were called 

No records exist after the time of Proeopius, 
which furnish any authentic information concerning 
the details of the provincial and municipal adminis- 
tration of the Greek population. The condition of 
social civilization, the state of public roads and 
buildings, the nature of the judicial, civil, and police 
administration, and the extent of education among 
the people, which all powerfully influence the cha- 
racter and the prosperity of a nation, are utterly 
unknown. It is certain that they were all in a 
declining or totally neglected state. The deplorable 
condition to which Thessalonica was often reduced 
by famine, though situated in one of the richest 
provinces of Europe, has been already mentioned, 
and unfortunately these famines arose in as great a 
degree from the fiscal regulations and commercial 
monopolies of the Roman government, as from the 
devastations of the barbarians.* The local adminis- 
tration of the Greek cities still retained some shadow 
of ancient forms, and senates existed in many, even 
to a late period of the Byzantine empire. Indeed, 
they must all have enjoyed very much the same 
form of government as Venice and Amalfi, at the 
period of their separation from the eastern empire. 

The absence of all national feeling, which had ever 
been a distinguishing feature of the Roman govern- 
ment, continued to exert its influence at the court 
of Constantinople, long after the Greeks formed the 

* Tdfch Thcwt/onica, p. Ixvii. 

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bulk of the population of the empire. This anti- 
national spirit in the court and the administration, 
separated the governing classes from the people, and 
induced all those who obtained employments in the 
service of the state, to constitute themselves into a 
body, directly opposed to Greek nationality, because 
the Greeks formed the great mass of the governed. 
The election of many emperors not of Greek blood 
at this period, must be attributed to the strength of 
this feeling.* This opposition between the Greek 
people and the imperial administration contributed, 
in a considerable degree, to revive the authority of 
the eastern church. The church was peculiarly Greek, 
indeed, so much so, that an admixture of foreign 
blood was generally almost equivalent to a taint 
of heresy. As the priests were chosen from every 
rank of society, the whole Greek nation was usually 
interested in the prosperity and passions of the 
church. In learning and moral character, the higher 
clergy were far superior to the rest of the aristocracy, 
and thus they possessed a moral influence capable of 
protecting their friends and adherents among the 
people, in many questions with the civil government. 
This legitimate authority, supported by national 
feelings and prejudices, was sure to acquire un- 
bounded influence, the moment that the dispute 
concerning picture-worship ranged the Greek clergy 
and people on the same side, in their opposition to 
the imperial power. The Greek church appears for 

* Leontius was an I saurian, Nicbpii. Pat. 25. Leo, an T saurian, see 
Theophants Ch. 300. Le Beau, xii. 93. 97. Philippicus, an Armenian. 
Nicephorus was of Arabian descent. Abou'lparadj, 139. Leo V. an 
Armenian. Michael the Second, of Amorium, was said to be a Jew. 
Cedrbni H. C. 2. 496. 

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a long period of history as the only public represen- 
tative of the feelings and views of the nation, and 
after the accession of Leo the Isaurian, it must be 
regarded as the institution which preserved the 
national existence of the Greeks. 

Amidst the numerous vices and errors in the social 
state of mankind at this period, it is consoling to be 
able to find a single virtue* The absence of all 
national feeling in the imperial armies exercised a 
humane influence on the wars which the empire 
carried on against the Saracens. It is certain that 
the religious hatred, subsequently so universal be- 
tween the Christians and Mohammedans, was not 
very violent in the seventh and eighth centuries. 
The empire, it is true, was generally the loser by 
this want of national and patriotic feeling among the 
Christians. The facility with which the orthodox 
patriarchs of Jerusalem and Alexandria entered into 
negociations with the caliphs, has been already 
noticed ; but, on the other hand, the gain to huma- 
nity was immense, as is proved by the liberality of 
Moawyah, who rebuilt the church of Edessa. The 
Arabs for some time continued to be guided by the 
sentiments of justice which Mohammed had carefully 
inculcated, and their treatment of their heretic sub- 
jects was far from oppressive, in a religious point of 
view. When Abdalmelik desired to convert the 
splendid church of Damascus into a mosque, he 
abstained, on finding that the Christians of Damascus 
were entitled to keep possession of it, from the 
terms of their original capitulation. The insults 
which Justinian the Second, and the Caliph Walid, 
respectively offered to the religion of their rival, 

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were rather the effect of personal insolence and 
tyranny, than of any sentiment of religious bigotry. 
Justinian had also quarrelled with Abdalmelik, on 
account of the ordinary superscription of the caliph's 
letters — " Say there is one God, and that Moham- 
med is his prophet ;" and Walid violently expelled 
the Christians from the great church of Damascus, 
and converted it into a mosque. At this period, 
any connection of Roman subjects with the Saracens 
was viewed as ordinary treason, and not as subse- 
quently, in the time of the Crusades, in the light 
of an inexpiable act of sacrilege. The accusation 
brought against the Pope Martin, of corresponding 
with the Saracens, was not made with the intention 
of charging him with blacker treason than that 
which resulted from his supporting the rebel Exarch 
Olympius. All rebels naturally sought assistance 
from the Saracens, as the most powerful enemies of 
the empire, as soon as they found their enterprise 
desperate. The Armenian named Mizizius, who 
was proclaimed emperor at Syracuse, after the 
murder of Constans the Second, applied to the 
Saracens for aid, though the assistance which they 
furnished did not arrive until after his death. The 
Armenian Christians continually changed sides be- 
tween the emperor and the caliph, as the alliance of 
each appeared to afford them the fairest hopes of 
serving their political and religious interests. But 
as the Greek nation became more and more iden- 
tified with the political interests of the church, and 
as barbarism and ignorance spread more widely 
among the population of the Byzantine and Arabian 
empires, the feelings of mutual hatred became daily 

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more violent. They never, however, reached the* 
same pitch of wild rage among the Greeks, which 
they attained in Western Europe ; and the Greeks, 
consequently, were very generally calumniated as 
traitors to the cause of Christianity, by the ignorant 
and bigoted Franks. 

The government of the Roman empire had long- 
been despotic and weak, and the financial adminis- 
tration both corrupt and oppressive; but still its 
subjects enjoyed a benefit of which the rest of man- 
kind were almost entirely destitute, in the existence 
of an admirable code of laws, and a complete judicial 
establishment, separated from all the other branches 
of the public administration. It is to the existence 
of this judicial establishment, guided by a published 
code of laws, and controlled by a body of lawyers 
educated in public schools, that the Greeks were 
chiefly indebted for the superiority in civilization 
which they still retained over the rest of the world. In 
spite of the neglect displayed in the other branches of 
the administration, the central government always 
devoted particular care to the dispensation of justice 
in private cases, as the surest means of maintaining 
its authority, and securing its power, against the 
evil effects of its fiscal extortions. The profession of 
the law continued to form an independent body, in 
which learning and reputation were a surer means of 
arriving at wealth and honour than the protection of 
the great ; for the government itself was, from inte- 
rest, induced to select the ablest members of the legal 
profession for all judicial offices. The profit to be 
obtained by the sale of justice and of judicial offices 
was, even during the worst periods of Roman despo- 

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tism, too disgraceful to have been systematically 
pursued ; and the existence of the legal profession, 
uniting together a numerous body of educated men, 
guided by the same general views, and connected by 
similar studies, habits of thought, and interests, must 
have given the lawyers an independence both of 
character and position, which, in the distant pro- 
vinces of the empire, could not fail to operate as an 
effective check on the arbitrary abuse of administra- 
tive and fiscal power. The numerous regulations of 
Basil the Macedonian, Leo the Wise, and Constan- 
tine the Seventh, (Porphyrogenitus,) together with 
the compilation of the Basilics, shew the importance 
attributed to the due administration of justice in the 
most depraved period of the Byzantine empire, 
whenever the throne was occupied by men of reflec- 
tion. As the legal profession never came into direct 
opposition with the church, and as, like the clergy, 
it was, from its nature and composition, imbued with 
some popular feelings, it contributed to support and 
extend the power of the church, whenever the clergy 
were placed in opposition to the imperial court on 
national and popular grounds. 

In all countries which exist for any length of 
time in a state of civilization, a number of local, 
communal, and municipal institutions are created, 
which really perform a considerable portion of the 
duties of civil government ; for no central adminis- 
tration can carry its control into every detail ; and 
those governments which attempt to carry their 
interference farthest, are generally observed to be 
those which leave most of the real work of govern- 
ment undone. During the greater period of the 

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Roman domination, the Greeks had been allowed to 
retain their own municipal and provincial institu- 
tions, as has been stated in the earlier part of this 
work, and the details of the civil administration were 
left almost entirely in their hands. Justinian the 
First destroyed that part of this system which gave 
the towns and corporations any fiscal and military 
powers, by robbing them of all their revenues, and 
enforcing the principle of the Roman empire, that 
the state alone was charged with the defence of its 
subjects, by disarming, as far as lay in his power, the 
body of the people. The effects of the poverty and 
unprotected condition of the Greek population, have 
been seen in the facilities which it afforded to the 
ravages of the Avars and Sclavonians. As the empire 
grew weaker, and the danger from the barbarians 
more imminent, the imperial regulations could not be 
regarded. Unless the Greeks had been armed, their 
towns and villages must all have fallen a prey to 
every passing band of brigands ; and their commerce 
would have been annihilated by Sclavonian and 
Saracen cruisers. The inhabitants of Venice, 
Istria, and Dalmatia, the citizens of Gaeta, Capua, 
Naples, and Salerno, and the inhabitants of conti- 
nental Greece, the Peloponnesus, and the Archi- 
pelago, would have been exterminated by their 
barbarous neighbours, unless they had possessed not 
only arms which they were able and willing to use, 
but also a municipal form of local administration 
capable of directing the energies of the people, with- 
out consulting the central government at Constanti- 
nople. The possession of arms, their successful 
employment in resisting the barbarians, and the 

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order and mild government of a native magistracy, 
gradually revived the spirit of independence ; and to 
these circumstances must be traced the revival of 
the wealth of the Greek islands, and of the com- 
mercial cities of the Peloponnesus. 

Although the period of history which has been 
treated in this work, has brought down the record 
of events to the final destruction of ancient political 
society, and even presents the dawn of the new 
combinations of national manners which characterize 
the middle ages, still the reader must carefully bear 
in mind, that the modifications effected in social life 
had not, in the seventh and eighth centuries, com- 
pletely changed the external appearance of the 
ancient cities of the empire. Though the wealth 
and the numbers of the inhabitants had diminished, 
the public buildings and temples of the ancient 
Greeks existed in all their splendour, and it would 
be a very incorrect picture indeed of a Greek city 
of this period, to suppose that it resembled in any 
way the filthy, and ill-constructed burgs of the middle 
ages.* The solid fortifications of ancient military 
architecture still defended many cities against the 
assaults of the Sclavonians, Bulgarians, and Saracens; 
the splendid monuments of ancient art were still 
preserved in all their brilliancy, though unheeded by 
the passer by ; the agoras were frequented, though 
by a less numerous and less busy population ; the 
ancient courts of justice were still in use; and the 
temples of Athens, Olympia, and Delphi, had yet 

* Some fine statues were found in the ruins of Eclana, a town near Bene- 
ventum, which was destroyed by Constans the Second, (A. D. 603.) They 
were conveyed to Spain. Lf. Beau, xi. 387. 

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received no injury from time, and little from neglect. 
The enmity of the iconoclasts to picture-worship, 
which, as Col. Leake* justly remarks, has been the 
theme for much exaggeration, had not yet caused 
the destruction of the statues and paintings of pure 
Grecian art. The classical student, with Pausanius 
in his hand, might, unquestionably, have identified 
every ancient site noticed by that author in his 
travels, and viewed the greater part of the buildings 
which he describes. In many of the smaller cities of 
Greece, it is doubtless true, that the barbarians had 
left dreadful marks of their severity. When imperial 
vanity could be gratified by the destruction of 
ancient works of art, or when the value of their 
materials made these an object of cupidity, the finest 
masterpieces of sculpture were exposed to ruin. 
The Emperor Anastasius the First, permitted the 
finest bronze statues, which Constantine had col- 
lected from all the cities of Greece, to be melted 
into a colossal image of himself, f During the reign 
of Constans the Second, the bronze . tiles of the 
Pantheon of Rome were taken away. Yet, new 
statues continued to be erected to the emperors, in 
the last days of the empire. A colossal statue of 
bronze, attributed to the Emperor Heraclius, existed 

* Topography of Athens and the Demi, vol. i. p. 65. I am not quite sure 
that the learned author is borne out in the assertion that " it was about the 
age of the iconoclastic dispute, that the productions of ancient sculpture 
finally disappeared from every part of the ancient world, with the sole 
exception of the Byzantine capital." They appear, from the position in 
which uninjured monuments are often found, to have been preserved 
untouched to a much later period, and it seems probable, that they only then 
began to bo neglected, and to be exposed to destruction for the use of the 
materials of which they were composed. 

t Malalas, xvi. 42. ed Venet. 

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at Barletta, in Apulia, as late as the fourteenth 
century.* That the Greeks had not yet lost all 
talent for art, is proved by the well executed 
cameos and intaglios, and the existing mosaics, 
which cannot be attributed to an earlier period. 
The soul of art, indeed, that public feeling which 
inspires correct taste, was extinct, and the excellence 
of execution still existing, was only the result of 
mechanical dexterity, and apt imitation of good 

The destinies of literature were very similar to 
those of art ; nothing was now understood but what 
was directly connected with practical utility ; but the 
memory of the ancient writers was still respected, 
and the cultivation of literature still conferred a 
high degree of reputation. Learning was neither 
neglected nor despised, though its objects were 
sadly misunderstood, and its pursuits confined to 
a small circle of votaries. The learned institutions, 
the libraries, and the universities of Alexandria, 
Antioch, Berytus, and Nisibis, were destroyed ; but 
at Athens, Thessalonica, and Constantinople, schools 
of literature and science continued to flourish; 
public libraries, and all the conveniences for a life 
of study, still existed. Many towns in Greece must 
have contained individuals who solaced their hours 
by the use of these libraries ; and although poverty, 
the difficulties of communication, and declining taste, 
daily circumscribed the numbers of the learned, 
there can be no doubt that they were never without 

* Visconti Icon. Rom, iv. 165. 
2 L 

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some influence on society. Their habits of life, and 
the love of retirement, which a knowledge of the 
past stato of their country tended to nourish, 
certainly inclined this class rather to conceal them- 
selves from public notice, than to intrude on the 
attention of their countrymen. The few learned 
men, who sought fame by the publication of their 
works, were compelled to write for the public taste, 
instead of striving to emulate some model of classic 
excellence. The principal Greek poet who flourished 
during the latter years of the Roman empire, and 
whose writings have been preserved, is George 
Pisida, the author of three poems in iambic verses, 
on the exploits of Heraclius, written in the seventh 
century. It would perhaps be difficult, in the whole 
range of literature, to point to historical poetry 
which conveys less information on the subject which 
he pretends to celebrate, than that of George Pisida, 
and in taste and poetical inspiration, he is quite as 
deficient as in judgment * The historical literature 
of the period, is certainly superior to the poetical in 
merit, for though most of the writers offer little to 
praise in their style, still much that is curious and 
valuable is preserved in the portion of their writings 
which we possess. The fragments of the works of 
the historian Menander of Constantinople, written 
about the commencement of the seventh century, 
make us regret the loss of his entire work. From 
these important fragments we derive much valuable 

♦ The best edition is that of Bekker, in the collection of the Byzantine 
historians, now publishing at Bonn. It is included in the same ▼oiumesB 
Paulus Silcntiarius and the Patriarch Nicephorus. The two poets deservea 
an index, for nobody is likely to peruse them for amusement 

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information concerning the state of the empire, and 
his literary merit is by no means contemptible.* 
The most important work relating to this period, is 
the general history of Theophylactus Simocatta, who 
treats of the reign of the Emperor Maurice, and 
wrote in the earlier part of the seventh century. 
His work contains a great deal of curious informa- 
tion, evidently collected with considerable industry ; 
but, as Gibbon remarks, he is harmless of taste or 
genius, and these deficiences lead him to mistake 
the relative importance of historical facts, f He is 
supposed to have been of Egyptian origin. 

Two chronological writers, John M alalas and the 
author of the Chronicon Paschale, likewise deserve 
notice, as they have preserved many facts not 
otherwise recorded ; and both supply valuable and 
authentic testimony as to many important events. 
These writers have, however, been supposed to 
belong to a much later period. The many curious 
notices concerning earthquakes, inundations, fires, 
plagues, and prodigies, which appear in the Byzan- 
tine chronicles, afford strong ground for inferring, 
that something like our modern newspapers must 
have been published even in the latter days of the 
empire. The only ecclesiastical historian who 
belongs to this period is Evagrius, whose church 
history extends from A. D. 429, to 593. In literary 
merit, he is inferior to the civil historians, but his 
work has preserved many facts which would other- 

* The fragments of Menander are contained in the first volume of the 
Bonn edition of the Byzantine historians, a volume valuable to those who 
may feel little interest in the greater part of the collection. 

t Decline and Fall, viii. 203, n. and 204, n. 

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wise have been lost. The greater number of the 
literary and scientific productions of this age are not 
deserving of particular notice. Few, even of the 
most learned and industrious scholars, consider that 
an acquaintance with the pages of those whose 
writings are preserved, is of more importance than 
a knowledge of the names of those whose works are 
lost.* The discovery of paper, which Gibbon says 
came from Samarcand to Mecca about 710, contri- 
buted not a little to preserve learning in the East 
at this period of its decline, by rendering manuscripts 
cheaper and more accessible. 

The mighty change which had taken place in the 
influence of Greek literature since the time of the 
Macedonian conquest deserves our attention. All 
the most valuable monuments of its excellence were 
then preserved, and time could have in no way 
diminished their value. The superiority of the Greeks 
in those departments*of knowledge which the age 
was still qualified to appreciate, was almost as fully 
admitted at the court of the Arabian caliphs, as it 
had been at that of the Roman emperors. The 
mental supremacy of the Greeks had, nevertheless, 
received a far severer shock than their political 
power ; and there was for less hope of their recover- 
ing from the blow, since they were themselves the 
real authors of their literary degeneracy, and the 
sole admirers of the inflated vanity which had be- 

* For information on Greek literary history, see Fab&icii Btbliotkeca 
Graeca, ed. Harless. Hamb. 1790, && Schoell, Hittoire de la LtoUratnre 
Greeque Profane, &c. Palis, 1823, or the improved German translation by 
Dr Finder. Petersen, Handbuch dcr Griechitchen Litteratur Ge$ckickt<. 
Hanib. 1834. 

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come a national vice.* The admitted superiority of 
Greek authors in taste and truth, those universal 
passports to admiration, had once induced a number 
of writers of foreign race to aspire to fame by 
writing in Greek ; and this happened not only 
during the period of the Macedonian domination, 
but also under the Roman empire, after the Greeks 
had lost all political supremacy, when Latin was the 
official language of the civilized world, and the 
dialects of Egypt, Syria, and Armenia, possessed a 
civil and scientific, as well as an ecclesiastical 

The position of the Greek nation was completely 
changed by the conquests of the Arabs. The Greeks 
of Alexandria, Syria, and Cyrenaica, soon became 
extinct ; and the numbers of the votaries of Greek 
literature were diminished in the rest of the world ; 
and even that portion of the literature itself which 
still retained a value in the eyes of mankind came 
to be viewed in a totally different light. The Arabs 
of the eighth century undoubtedly regarded the 
scientific literature of the Greeks with great respect, 
but they considered it only as a mine from which to 
extract a useful metal. The study of the Greek 
language was no longer a matter of the slightest 
importance, for the learned Arabians were satisfied 
if they could master the results of science by the 
translations of their Syrian subjects. It has been 
said, that Latin and Arabic have held the rank of 
universal languages as well as Greek, but the fact 
must be admitted only in the restricted sense of 

* Dion. Chrtsostomus, Or. 38. 'EXXnux* kpMfnpf*. 

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applying it to their extensive empire. The different 
range of the mental and moral power of the litera- 
tures of Arabia, of Rome, and Greece, is only, in our 
age, becoming fully apparent to the modern civilized 

There is no country in the world more directly 
dependent on commerce for the well-being of its 
inhabitants, than the land occupied by the Greeks 
around the Egean Sea. Nature has separated 
these territories by mountains and seas into a variety 
of districts, whose productions are so different, that 
unless commerce afford great facilities for exchanging 
the surplus of each, the population must remain 
comparatively small, and must languish in a state 
of poverty and privation. 

The Greeks still possessed the greater share of 
that commerce which they had for ages enjoyed in 
the Mediterranean. The ruin of Alexandria and 
Carthage undoubtedly gave it a severe blow, and 
the existence of a numerous maritime population in 
Syria, Egypt, and Africa, enabled the Arabs to share 
the profits of a trade which had hitherto been a 
monopoly of the Greeks. The absolute government 
of the caliphs, and their jealousy of their Christian 
subjects, rendered property too insecure in their 
dominions for commerce to flourish with the same 
tranquillity which it enjoyed under the legal despotism 
of the Byzantine emperors ; for commerce cannot long 
exist without a systematic administration, and soon 
declines, if its natural course be at all interrupted. 

The wealth of Syria at the time of its conquest 
by the Arabs, proves, that the commerce of the 
trading cities of the Roman empire was still con- 

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siderable. • A caravan, consisting of four hundred 
loads of silk and sugar was on its way to Baalbec, at 
the time the place was attacked. Extensive manu- 
factories of silk and dye-stuffs flourished, and several 
great fairs assisted in circulating the various 
commodities of the land through the different 
provinces,* The establishment of post-horses was 
at first neglected by the Arabs, but it was soon 
perceived to be so essential to the prosperity of the 
country, that it was restored by the Caliph Moawyah. 
The Syrian cities continued, under the Saracen 
government, to retain their wealth and trade as long 
as their municipal rights were respected. No more 
remarkable proof of this fact need be adduced, than 
the circumstance of the local mints supplying the 
whole currency of the country until the year 695, 
when the Sultan Abdalmelik first established a 
national gold and silver coinage.f 

Even the Arabian conquests were insufficient to 
deprive the empire of the great share which it held in 
the Indian trade. Though the Greeks were deprived 
of all direct political control over it, they still retained 
possession of the carrying trade of the south of 
Europe; and the Indian commodities, destined for 
that market, passed almost entirely through their 
hands. The Arabs, in spite of the various expedi- 
tions which they fitted out to attack Constantinople, 
never succeeded in forming a maritime power ; and 
their naval strength declined, with the numbers and 

* Ocklet, i. 166. 

t Saulet, Ltttret h M. Reinaud, membre de l'institut, sur quelques points 
de la numismatique Arabe. Curt Bose, Ueber Arabuche Byzanlinische 
Munun. Grunina, 1840. 

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wealth of their Christian subjects, until it dwindled 
into a few piratical squadrons.* The emperors of 
Constantinople really remained the masters of the 
sea, and their subjects the inheritors of the riches 
which its commerce affords.f 

The principal trade of the Greeks, after the 
Arabian conquests, consisted of three branches, — 
the Mediterranean trade, with the nations of 
Western Europe, the home trade, and the Black 
Sea trade. The state of society, in the south of 
Europe, was still so disordered, in consequence of 
the settlements of the barbarians, that the trade for 
supplying them with Indian commodities, and the 
manufactures of the East, was entirely in the hands 
of the Jews and Greeks, and commerce solely in 
that of the Greeks. The consumption of spices and 
incense was then enormous ; a large quantity of 
spice was employed at the tables of the rich, and 
Christians then burned incense daily in their churches. 
The wealth engaged in carrying on this traffic be- 
longed chiefly to the Greeks ; and after the Arabs 
had rendered themselves masters of the two princi- 
pal channels of the Indian trade, through Persia 
and Syria, and by the Red Sea and Egypt, they 
contrived to participate in its profits, as the distri- 
butors of its produce among the distant consumers. 
The consumption of Indian productions was generally 
too small, at any particular port, to admit of whole 
cargoes of these commodities' forming the staple 

* Compare Theophanis Ck. 382, and Scriptoret po$t Tkeopk. p. 46. 

miX** xa) T&fvt ipsv rn( £lt S«X«rr»f. CONSTANT. PoKPHTR. D* Tkem. 

p. 58. ed. Bonn. 

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of a direct commerce with the West. The Greeks 
rendered this traffic profitable, as they remained in 
possession of the greater part of the countries which 
furnished Europe with silk, oil, and wine. The 
Greeks alone prepared the richest manufactures in 
silk, dyed wool, jewellery, and many articles of dress 
and ornament ; and they were thus enabled to assort 
their different cargoes. The importance of this trade, 
with the power and influence which it conferred, 
was one of the principal causes which enabled the 
Roman empire to retain the conquests of Justinian 
in Spain and Sardinia. This commercial influence 
of the Greek nation checked the power of the 
Goths, the Lombards, and the Avars, and gained 
for the people as many friends as the avarice and 
tyranny of the exarchs and imperial officers created 
enemies. It may not, indeed, be superfluous here 
to remark, that the invectives against the govern- 
ment and persons of the exarchs, which abound in 
the works of the Italians, and from them have been 
copied into the historians of Western Europe, must 
always be sifted with care, as they, in fact, only give 
a correct picture of the violent aversion of the 
Latin ecclesiastics from the authority of the eastern 
empire. We are not to forget, that the people of 
Rome, Venice, and the south of Italy, clung to the 
Roman empire from feelings of interest, long after 
they possessed the power of assuming perfect inde- 
pendence. These feelings of interest arose from 
the commercial connection of the West and East. 
Venice, Genoa, and Amalfi, did not yet possess 
capital sufficient to carry on the eastern trade, 
without the assistance of the Greeks. The return 

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cargoes from the north, consisted chiefly of slaves, 
wood for building, raw materials of various kinds, 
and provisions for the maritime districts.* 

The most important branch of trade, in a large 
empire, must ever be that which is carried on 
within its own territory, for the advantage of its 
subjects. The peculiar circumstances have been 
noticed, that made the prosperity of the inhabitants 
of those countries, which composed the Roman 
empire after the time of Heraclius, essentially 
dependent on commerce ; and the importance of the 
internal trade to the revenue was increased by the 
number of wealthy and civilized citizens, who still 
existed, in spite of the misery and depopulation 
of the empire, f This internal commerce, if it 
had been left unfettered by restrictions, would pro- 
bably have saved the Roman empire ; but the 
financial difficulties, caused by the lavish expendi- 
ture of Justinian the First, induced that emperor to 
invent a system of monopolies, $ which was persisted 
in, and extended, until it threw the trade of the 
empire into the hands of the free citizens of Venice 
and Amalfi, whom it had compelled to assume inde- 
pendence. Silk, oil, and various manufactures, were 
government monopolies. Restrictions were at times 
laid on particular branches of trade, for the profit of 

* Constant. Pobph. De car. aula Byz. 1. i. c. 72. vol. i. p. 363. ed. 
Bonn. Anastasius, De tilts Pont. Bom. p. 79. The Venetians, in 960, 
were forbidden by the pope to export Christian slaves to sell them to the 

•f The ancient prosperity of Greece is shewn in the existence of numerous 
small towns celebrated for their manufactures. Thus the purple dye' of 
Melibcaa, a little town on Mount Ossa. Lucretius, 2. 409. Virgil, jEn. 
5. 251. Leake's Travels in Northern Greece, iii. 388. 

X Paooopii Hist. Are. c. 26. 

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favoured individuals.* The traffic in grain, between 
the different provinces of the empire, was subjected 
to onerous, and often arbitrary arrangements ;f and 
the difficulties which nature had opposed to the 
circulation of the necessaries of life, as an incentive 
to human industry, were increased, and the inequa- 
lities of price, augmented for the profit of the 
treasury, or the gain of the fiscal officers, until 
industry was destroyed by the burden.^ 

These monopolies, and the administration which 
supported them, were naturally odious to the 
mercantile classes. When it became necessary, in 
order to continue the Mediterranean trade, to violate 
the great principle of the empire, that the subjects 
should not be intrusted with arms, nor fit out armed 
vessels to carry on distant commerce, these armed 
vessels, whenever they were able to do so with 
impunity, violated the monopolies and fiscal regula- 
tions of the emperors. The independence of the 
Italian and Dalmatian cities then became a condi- 
tion of their commercial prosperity. There can be 
little doubt, that if the Greek commercial classes 
had been able to acquire as much relative power as 
the Italian, they, too, would have asserted their 
independence; for the emperors of Constantinople 
never viewed the merchants of their dominions in 
any other light than as a class from whom money 
was to be obtained in every possible way.§ This 
view is common in all absolute governments, and, 

• Leonis Gram. Chron. p. 477. A. D. 888. 
t Pbocop. Hist. Are. c. 22. p. 64. 

t Ifyfit. 1. 50. tit. 5, De vacat. et excusat. munerum, 1. 9. De negotiator^ 
bu$ frvmcnlarii*. 
§ Procop. HUt. Arc. c. 25. 

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joined to the aversion generally entertained by 
despots from the independent position and character 
of the mercantile classes, usually suggests such 
measures as eventually drive commerce from 
countries under despotic rule. The little republics 
of Greece, the free cities of the Syrian coast, 
Carthage, the republic of Italy, the Hanse towns, 
Holland, England, and America, all illustrate by 
their history how much trade is dependent on those 
free institutions which offer a security against 
financial oppression ; while the Roman empire affords 
an instructive lesson of the converse. 

The trade of Constantinople with the countries 
round the Black Sea, was an important element in 
the commercial prosperity of the empire. Byzantium 
had always served as the entrepot of this commerce, 
and the traffic to the south of the Hellespont, even 
before it became the capital of the Roman empire.* 
After that event, its commerce was as much 
augmented as its population. It was supplied with 
a tribute of grain from Egypt, and one of cattle * 
from the Tauric Chersonese, which kept provisions 
generally at a low price, and made it the seat of a 
flourishing manufacturing industry .f The commerce 
of the countries to the north of the Black Sea, 
the fur and the Indian trades, by the Caspian, the 
Oxus, and the Indus, centred at Constantinople, 
whence the merchants distributed these various 
articles among the nations of the West, and received 
in exchange the productions of these countries. The 

* Polybii Hist. iv. 8. 38. 4. (vol. ii. p. 55. ed. Tauch.) » 

t Cedrenus, 367. Thkopiianis Citron, p. 149. Constant. Porph. Dt 
A dm. Imp. c. 6. 

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great value of this commerce, even to the barbarous 
nations which obtained a share in it, is frequently 
mentioned by the Byzantine historians. The Avars 
had profited greatly by this traffic, and the decline 
of their empire was attributed to its decay ; though 
there can be little doubt that the real cause, both 
of the decline of the trade and of the Avar power, 
arose from the insecurity of property, originating in 
bad government.* The wealth of the mercantile 
and manufacturing classes in Constantinople con- 
tributed, in no small degree, to the success with 
which that city repulsed the attacks of the Avars 
and the Saracens. 

Nothing could tend more to give us a correct 
idea of the real position of the Greek nation at the 
commencement of the eighth century, than a view 
of the moral condition of the lower orders of the 
people ; but, unfortunately, all materials, even for a 
cursory inquiry into this subject, are wanting. The 
few casual notices which can be gleaned from the 
lives of the saints, afford the only authentic evidence 
of popular feeling. It cannot, however, escape 
notice, that even the shock which the Mohammedan 
conquests had given to the orthodox church, had 
failed to recall its ministers back to their real duty 
of inculcating the pure principles of the Christian 
religion. They continued their old practice of 
confounding the intellects of their congregations, by 
discussing the unintelligible distinctions of scholastic 
theology. From the manner in which religion was 
treated by the eastern clergy, the people could take 

* Suidas, v. Bulgari, torn. i. 445. 

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little interest in its doctrines ; and they began to fall 
back on the idle traditions of their ancestors, and 
to join with the last recollections of paganism, new 
superstitions, derived from a perverted application 
of the consolations of Christianity, Relics of pagan 
usages were retained ; a belief that the spirits of the 
dead haunted the paths of the living, was general in 
all ranks ; a respect for the bones of martyrs, and a 
confidence in the figures on amulets, became the 
real doctrines of the popular faith. The connection 
which existed between the clergy and the people, 
powerful and great as it really was, appears at 
bottom to have been based on social and political 
grounds. Pure religion was so rare, that the word 
only served as a pretext for rendering the power of 
the clergy available ; and from this circumstance, the 
clergy appear as often to have made use of the 
superstitions of the people, as of their religious and 
moral feelings. The ignorant condition of the lower 
orders, and particularly of the rural population, 
explains the curious fact which has been already 
noticed, that paganism continued to exist in the 
mountains of Greece as late as the reign of the 
Emperor Basil, (A. D. 867—886,) when the 
Maniates of Mount Tagytus were at last converted 
to Christianity.* 

It has often been asserted, that about this time 
continental Greece, the Peloponnesus, and the 
islands of the Archipelago, were reduced to such a 
state of destitution and barbarism, that they are 
only mentioned by historians as places of banishment 

* Constant. Porphtr. De adm. imp. c. 50. vol. iii. 224. ed. Bonn. 

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for criminals.* But this mode of announcing the 
fact, leaves an incorrect impression on the mind of 
the reader. We know from Constantine Porphyro- 
genitus, that Cherson was a powerful commercial 
city, whose alliance or enmity was of considerable 
importance to the Byzantine empire, even so late as 
the tenth century .f Yet this city was often selected 
as a place of banishment for persons of high rank, 
who were regarded as dangerous state criminals. 
Pope Martin was banished thither by Constans the 
Second ; it was the place of exile of the Emperor 
Justinian the Second. The Emperor Philippicus, 
before he ascended the throne, had been exiled 
by Tiberius Apsimar to Cephallenia, and by Jus- 
tinian the Second to Cherson, a circumstance which 
would lead us to infer, that a residence in the islands 
of Greece was considered a more agreeable sojourn 
than that of Cherson. Several of the adherents of 
Phillipicus were, after his dethronement, banished to 
Thessalonica, one of the richest and most populous 
cities of the empire.f It is evident, too, from the 
circumstances which are mentioned in connec- 
tion with the exile of the sons of Constantine 
Copronymus to Athens, in the reign of the Empress 
Irene, A. D. 797, that Athens must have been a 
considerable city.J It was evidently selected for 
the residence of the banished princes, on account of 
the devotion of its citizens to the cause of the 
empress, and to the vigilant watch over them which 
her brother was enabled to keep, from residing in 

* Gibbon, ix. 30. Emebson's Hist, of Modem Greece, i. 56. 
t Const. Porph. De adm. imp. c. 53. vol. ill. 269. ed. Bonn. 
% Theophanis Chron. 321. § Ibid. 399. 

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the city. Athens, indeed, appears to have retained 
not only a considerable population, but also some 
degree of municipal liberty, and must have been 
very far from an insignificant town. For when the 
princes succeeded in forming a secret alliance with 
a neighbouring Sclavonian chief, by whose assistance 
they endeavoured to effect their escape, the empress, 
on discovering the plot, did not think it necessary 
to send troops to defend the city, so sure did she 
feel of the strength of Athens, and of the attach- 
ment and courage of the Athenians. She ordered, 
however, the eyes of the princes to be put out, and 
condemned them to a severer exile. 

The command of the imperial troops in Greece 
was considered an office of high rank, and it was 
accordingly conferred on Leontius, when Justinian 
the Second wished to persuade that general that he 
was restored to favour. Leontius made it the 
stepping-stone to the throne. But the strongest 
proof of the wealth and prosperity of the cities of 
Greece, is to be found in the circumstance of their 
being able to fit out the expedition which ventured 
to attempt wresting Constantinople from the grasp 
of a soldier and statesman, such as Leo the Isaurian 
was known to be, at the time when the Greeks 
deliberately resolved to overturn his throne. 

It is difficult to form any correct representation 
of a state of society so different from our own, as 
that which existed among the Greeks in the eighth 
century. The rural districts, on the one hand, were 
reduced to a state of desolation, and the towns, on 
the other, flourishing in wealth, with agriculture at 
the lowest ebb, and trade in a prosperous condition. 

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If, however, we consider the long series of misfor- 
tunes which were required to bring this favoured 
land to the state of complete destitution to which, 
at a later period, it sank, we may arrive at a more 
accurate knowledge of its condition than it would 
be possible, were we to confine ourselves to looking 
back at the records of its greatest splendour, and 
comparing a few lines which we find in the meagre 
chronicles of the Byzantine writers, with the volumes 
of earlier history, recounting the greatest actions — 
described with unrivalled elegance. 

2 M 

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Digitized I 

b'y Google j 


Copies, both of the original edition of the collection of the 
Byzantine historians, printed at Paris, and of the Venetian 
reprint, vary so much in the arrangement and number of the 
volumes, that an alphabetical catalogue of the works necessary, 
in order to form a complete set of these writers, may prove useful 
to students of the history of the eastern empire. A list of the 
Paris edition, as the volumes were first published, or at least as 
they were arranged in the oldest French catalogues, will be found 
in Ebert's Bibliographisches Lexicon, and in Schweiger s Handbuch 
der Classichen Bibliographie, and an alphabetical index of all the 
works, in the third volume of Pinder s Geschichte der Griechischen 
Literatur, von Schoell. It is needless to notice the superiority of 
the new edition, now in the course of publication at Bonn, which 
is often great. Still the older editions retain their value, as many 
works are merely reprinted. 

1. Ph. Labbjei de Byzantinra historise Scriptoribus emittendis 
ad omnes per orbem erudites protrepticon. Parians, 1648. 
Excerpta de legationibus ex Dexippo Aheniensi, Eunapio 
Sardiano, Petro Patricio, Prisco Sophista, Malcho Phila- 
delph., Menandbo Protect., Theophylacto Simocatta, 
a D. Hoeschelio edita. Item Eclogse historicorum de 
rebus Byzantinis, quorum Integra scripta aut injuria tem- 
porum interciderunt, aut plura continent ad Constant, 
historian! minus spectantia. Selegit interp. recensuit no- 
tisque illust. Ph. Labbe. Becensio auctorum, qui in 
hisce eclogis continentur. Oltmpiodorus Thebseus, Can- 
didus Isaurus, Theophanes Byzantius de bello Justini 
adv. Persas, Hesychius Milesius de rebus patriis Constan- 
tinopoleos. Parisiis, 1648. 

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2. Agatiii.e SelioluMici tie imperio et rebus gestis Justiniani, 

imp. libri V. <rr. ot hit. intorpr. B. Vulcanio, access, ejusd. 

Agathia* cpigraiiunata. Pariniis, 1600. 
l\. Axastasii Bibliothccarii llistoria ecclesiastica, acced. notie 

Car. Annib. Fabroti. Ejusd. Anastasii vita? Pontificum 

llomanorum. Parisiis, 1649. 

4. Comnen<£ Porphyron. Cwsarissa? (Ann®) Alexias, lib. xv. a 
Pet. Passino, lat. inteq)ret. glossario et notis illust., accesserunt 
pnefat. ac uota? Dav. Hoeschelii. Parisiis, 1651. 

Notie historical et philol. in Anna? Comneme Alexiadem. 
Parisiis, 1670. 

5. and 6. Banduri (Anselmi) Imperium Orientale, sive Anti- 
quitates Coustantinopolitanoo in quatuor partes distributee. 2 
vol. Parisiis, 1711. 

Vol. I. Constantiui Porphyro. de Thematibus Orientis et 
Occident is liber. Hieroclis Grammatici Synecdemus — 
Constantini Porphyr. de administrando imperio lib. — 
Agapeti Diaconi capita admonitoria ad Justinianum imp. 
— Basilii imp. capita exhortationum ad Leonem filium — 
Theophylacti Archiep. Bulg. institutio regia ad Constan- 
tinum Porphyrog. — Anonymi origines Constantinopoli- 
tana? ac descriptio a?dis Sophiana? — Breves demonstra- 
tiones chronographica? incerti auctoris — Niceta? Choniata? 
narratio de statu ia Constant inopolitanis, quae Latini, capta 
urbe, in monetam conflaverunt. 
Vol. II. Ans. Banduri animadversiones in Constantini Porph. 
libros de thematibus et de adm. imperio ; ac breves notae 
ad opuscula Agapeti Diac. Basilii imp. et Theophylacti 
7, 8, and 9. Cantacuzeni (Joan.) Historia, gr. et lat. ex interp. 

J. Pontani, c. ejusdem, et J. Gretseri, annot. 3 vol. Parisiis, 


10. Cbdeeni (Georgii) Compendium Historiarum, gr. et lat. ex 
vers, et o. not. G. Xylandri. Acce. ad not. J. Goar et Car. Annib. 
Fabroti giossar. in Cedrenum. Excerpta ex breviario historico 
Joannis Skylitzaa Curopolata?. Parisiis, 1647. 

11. Chalcocondylj: (Laonici) Historiar. lib. x. de origine et reb. 
gestis Turcorum gr. et lat. cum annalibus Sultanorum ex vers. 
J. Leunclavii. ace. C. A. Fabroti ind. gloss. Chalcocond. 
Parisiis, 1650. 

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12. Ohronioon Alexandrinum s. Chronicon Paschale a mundo 
condito ad Heraclii imp. a. 20. c. n. chron. et hist, cura Car. 
Dufresne Dn. du Cange. Parisiis, 1688. 

13. Chronicon Orientate latinitate donatnm ab Abrahamo Ecc- 
hellensi. Ejusd. HistorioB Orien talis snpplementum. Parisiis, 

14. Chronicon Orien tale Petri Rahebi JSgypti ex Arabico latino 
reddittum ab Ab. Ecchollensi, nunc nova interpr. donatum a 
J. S. Assemano. Fol. Venet. 1729. 

This Venetian edition is improved and augmented. 

15. Cinnami (Joan) Historiar. libr. vi. gr. et lat. c. not. hist, et 
phiiol. Car. Dufresne du Cange. ace. Pauli Silentiarii descriptio 
S. Sophice. gr. et lat. c. n. Ducange. Parisiis, 1670. 

16. Codini (Georgii) et Anonymi excerpta de antiquitat. Con- 
stantinopolitanis, gr. et lat. ex vers. Petr. Lambecii. c. ejusd. 
not. ace. Manuel. Chbysolaile, epist. ill. etc. Imp. Leonis, 
oracula (c. fig.) gr. et lat interpr. Bern. Medonio. Parisiis, 

17. Codini (Georgii) De off. magueo ecclesisB et aulas Constan- 
tinopolitame, gr. et lat. ex vers. J. Gretseri c. ejusd. comment, 
ace. uotitiiD Gnecorum episcopatuum a Leone Sapiente ad 
Andronicum Palieologum a J. Goar. Parisiis, 1648. 

18 and 19. Pobphybogbn. (Constantini) Lib. ii. De ceremoniis 
aula) BysantinsB, gr. et lat. ed. J. H. Leich, et J. Jac. Reiske. 
2 vol. Lipsiffi, 1751. 

20. Corporis Historic Bya. nova appendix opera Geobgii, 
Theodosii Diaconi, et Corippi Africani complectens, c. notis 
P. F. Foggini. Romro, 1777. 

21. Ducjb, (J.) Historia Byzantina, gr. et lat. not. illustrav. Ism. 
Bullialdi. Parisiis, 1649. 

22. Dufresne D. Ducange (Car.) Historia Byzantina duplici 
commentario illustrata, prior familias ac stemmata imperatorum 
Constantinopolit. cum eorundem numismatibus ; alter descrip- 
tionem urbis Constantinipolotanaa sub imp. Christianis. Parisiis, 

23. Genesius (Jos.) de reb. Constantinopolitanis, a Leone Ar- 
menio ad Basilium Macedonem — Geo. Phranzje, Chronicon 
lat. — J. Antiocheni cog. Malaljb, Chronographia. R. 
Bentleii, Epistola ad Millium. Leonis Allatii Opuscula. 
Fol. Venet. 1733. 

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24. Acropolit^ (Georgii) Historia, gr. et lat. Joblis Chrono- 
graphia Compendiaria, et J. Canani, Narratio de bello Con- 
etantinopolitano, gr. et lat. ex interpr. Leon. Allatii c. ejusd. et 
Theod. Dousjo observ. ace. Alatii de Georgiis et eorum scriptis 
diatriba. Parisiis, 1651. 

25. Glycjb (Mich.) Annales, gr. et lat. ex vers. J. Leunclavii, 
ex rec. et c. notis, Ph. Labbsei. Parisiis, 1660. 

26. Historic Byzantinro Scriptores post Theophanem. Parisiis, 

Chronici jassu Constantini Porphyrog. conscripti a Leone 
Armenio usque ad Michaelem Theoph. fil. libri iv. Con- 
stantini Porphyrog. Basilius Macedo. — Anonymns oon- 
tmuator Theophanis — Orthodoxorum invectiva adv. Icono- 
machos. — Joannis Jerosolymitani narratio de Iconomachis 

— Joannis Cameniatre narratio de excidio urbis Thessa- 
lonicse — Demetri Cydonii monodia occisorum Thessalonic® 

— Symeonis Magistri ac Logotheto Annales — Georgii 
Monachii, vita) recentior. imp. a Leone Armenio usque ad 
Constantinum Porphyrogen. 

27. Lbonis, (Diaconi,) Historia, scriptoresque ad res Byzantinas 
pertinentes etc. ed. C. B. Hasc. Fol. Parisiis, 1819. 

Leonis Diaconi Caloensis Histori®, libri x. et liber de 
velitatione bellica Nicephori Augusti, e recensione Car. 
Ben. Hasii, addita ejusdem versione atque adnotationibus 
ab ipso recognitis. Accedunt Theodosii Acroases de Creta 
capta e rec. F. Jacobsii et Luitprandi legatio cum alik 
libellis qui Nicephori Phocae et Joannis Tzimiscis historiam 
illustrant. Bonn®, 1828. 

28. Lydus, (J. F.) De magistratibus Romanised. J. D. Fuss, 
praef. est. C. B. Hase. 8vo. Parisiis, 1811. 

De ostentis. Parisiis, 1823. 

The works of Lydus are printed in one volume of the Bonn 
edition. Joannes Lydus, ex rec. Imm. Bekkeri. 8vo. 
Bonn, 1837. 

29. Malaise, (Joan,) Antiooheni, cognomento J. Malays, Hist. 
Chronica, ed. Ed. Chilmead. Oxon. 8vo. 1691. 

Reprinted at Venice, in No. 24. 

30. Manassis, (Constantini,) Breviarium Hist. ex. interpr. J. 
Leunclavii, c. ejusdem et J. Meursii, not. ace. var. lect. cura 
Leonis Allatii, et C. Ann. Fabroti, et ejusdem glossarium. 
Parisiis, 1655. 

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31. NiCBTJB Acominati, Historia, gr. et lat. intcrpr. Hier. 
Wolfio, c. ejusd. notis, ace. C. A. Fabroti. glossarium. Parisiis, 

Nicety Aoominati Choniatjb, Narratio de statuis antiquis, 
quas Franci post captam anno 1204 Constantinopolin 
destruxerunt. Ex codice Bodleiiano emendatius edita a F. 
Wilken. Lipsiaa, 1830, 8vo. 

32. Nioephobi Patriarchs, Breviarium Hist, de reb. gest. ab 
obitu Mauricii ad Constantinum usque Copronymum. gr. et lat. c. 
interpr. et notis D. Petavii. Parisiis, 1648. 

33. Nioephobi, (Bryennii,) Commentarii de rebus Byzantinis 
gr. et lat. stud. P. Possini. Parisiis, 1661. 

34 and 35. Nioephobi, (Gregone,) Byzantina .Historia, ex. vers. 

Hieron. Wolfii et J. Boivini. 2 vol. Parisiis, 1702. 
36. Notitia Dignitatum imperii Romani — ex nova recens. Ph. 
Labb*l Parisiis, 1651, 8vo. Ven. 1732, Fol. 

The new edition by Dr Boecking, is so superior, that all 
earlier ones are useless. 8vo. 2 vols. Bonn, 1839. 
37 and 38. Paohtmebis (Georgii) Historia, gr. et lat. cum 
observat. P. Possini. 2 vol. Fol. Romaa typ. Barberinis, 
39 PoLLUOis, (Jul.) Historia Physica, seu chronicon ab origine 
mundi usque ad Valentis tempore, nunc primum gr. et lat. 
editum. ab Ign. Hard. Monach. 1792, 8vo. 

It was also published under the title, Anonymi Scriptoris 
hist, sacra. Folio. J. B. Bianconi. Bononiw, 1779. 
40. Phbantz* (Georg.) Chronicon, ed. F. C. Alter. Fol. Vindob. 
1795. Gr. 
A new edition of Phrantzas has been published at Bonn, with 
the gr. text and lat. translation. 
41 and 42. Pbooopii, (Csesariensis) Hist, sui temp. lib. viii. 
Ejusd. de adificiis Justiniani, lib. vi. gr. et lat. c. n. C. 
Maltreti. Ejusd. Arcana historia, gr. et lat. ex interpr. et c. 
notis N. Alemanni. Parisiis, 1662-3, 2 vol. 

43. Stnoelu Chronographia et Nioephobi Breviarium chronogr. 
gr. et lat. ex interpr. et c. n. Jac. Goar. Parisiis, 1652. 

44. Theophanis Chronographia, et Leonis Grammatici Vitae. 
recent, imperator. gr. et lat. ex interpr. J. Goar, et c. ejusd. 
et F. Combefis not. Parisiis, 1655. 

45. Theophylacti Simocatt® Hist. lib. viii. gr. et lat. ex J. 
Pontani interp. Parisiis, 1647. 

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46. THBOPHTLAOti Institutio regia ad Porphyrogenitum Constan- 
tinum, gr. et lat. interpr. P. Possino. Fol. Venet. 1729. 

47. Zonae* (Joan.) Annales. gr. et lat, ex interpr. Hier. 

48. Wolfii recens. et not illustr. 0. Dufreene, D. Du Cange, 2 
toI. Pariaiis, 1686-87. 

In order to form a complete set of works on Byzantine 
history, it is usual to add the following to the library. 

49. Histoire de l'Empire de Constantinople sous les empeiean 
Francis, par Gboffeay de Ville-Hardouin, avec les notes du 
C. Dufresne, D. Du Cange. Paris, 1657. 

50. Dufresne, Dn. Du Cange, (C.) Dissertatio de impcratof. 
Constantinop. numismat. 4 to. Rom. 1755. 

51 and 52. Banduei, (Ans.) Numismata imperatorum Romanonm 
a Trajano Decio ad Palwologos. FoL 2 vol. Parisiis, 17 IS. 

53. Taninh, (Hier.) Numismatum imperatorum Romanornm i 
Bandurio editorum supplement um. Fol. Rom®, 1791. 

54, 55 y and 56. Lbquibn, (Mich.) Oriens Christianus. Fol. 3 vol 
Parisiis, 1740, fc 

57. Bosohii, (Petri,) Traotatus de patriarchis Antiochems. JroL 
Venet. 1748. . . 

58. Cupeei, (Gu.) Tractatus de patriarchis Constantinopohtanis. 
Fol. Venet. 1751. 

59. Cypbii, (Ph.) Chronicon Eocles. gr. ed. M. Blancard, 4to. 
Franeg. 1679. 

60. BoNGABsn, (Jac) Gesta Dei per Francos. 8. et 61. 9*jf? 
expeditionum et regni Francorum Hieroeolymitani hist, ro 
2 yol. Hanor. 1611. 

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The gold coins vary considerably in value and weight at 
different times. The weight and value of the aureus under the 
following emperors is stated by Dureau de la Malle to be as 
follows : — 

Grains. Francs. 

Julius Caesar, weighed 153.5 value, 27.95 

Augustus, . . 147.8 26.89 

Tiberius, . 146. 26.56 

Nero, . . 139.7 25.42 

Galba to Antoninus, 137. 24.95 

Economic Politique des Romains, torn. i. p. 44. 

The silver coin of the period was the denarius, which in the 
time of Nero was reduced to the 96th part of a Roman pound. 
An aureus was then of the value of a sovereign ; 25 denarii were 
equal to an aureus ; and 40 aurel to a Roman 9>. weight of gold. 


4 = 1 Denarius of silver. 
100 = 25 = 1 Aureus of gold. 

In the time of Diocletian, there are pieces of silver with xcvi. 
these equal 96 assaria, or 24 denarii, or 8 ounces of copper. 

In the time of Constant ine, the coinage was again reformed. 
A. D. 325. 

4 = 1 follis, or ounce of copper. 

48 = 12 = 1 keration. 
96 = 24 = 2=1 millaresion. 
5760 = 1440 — 120 = 60 = lfo of silver. 

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The value of the solidus, the gold coin of the eastern empire, 
varied also in weight and value. 

In the time of Constantine it weighed 
Theodosius I. 
Theodosiu8 II. 

72 solidi were equal to lib of gold, so that the solidus in the 
lower empire was generally worth 12s. The mint price of gold 
is L.3, 17s. lOJd. 

The proportion of the value of silver to gold was, in the 
time of Julius Ca?sar, as 12 to 1 

Arcadius, 14 to 1 

Theodosius II. 18 to 1 

In the year A. D. 396, 7000 nummi were equal to a solidus. 
and 251b of copper were also equal to a solidus. 
1001b of copper were equal in value to lib of silver. 
18001b of copper were equal in value to lib of gold. 

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Professor of Rhetoric in the University of Edinburgh. 


With am APPENDIX, containing Examination or Statements In Mr Maeanlay** 
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In Foolscap Octavo, price 9s., elegantly bound in gilt cloth. 

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" The most brilliant and the most beautiful of all the effusions of Sir Bulwer Lytton's pen of fasci- 
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' When thus he lay, 

God p«Med in mercy by— 

' — * "" ■* on Win * "" 

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A holy harp, into bis lips a son*, 
That rolled its numbers down the tide of Time." 

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THE PHYSICAL ATLAS. A Series of Maps aud Illustrations of the 

Cieographlcal Distribution of Natural Phenomena. By Alexander Keith Johnston, F.IL&.E., 
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